Outdoor drinking in Fayetteville

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Starting Wednesday (July 22), you don’t have to stay inside a restaurant or bar with an alcoholic beverage in certain areas of downtown Fayetteville. 

The Outdoor Refreshment Area program allows people 21 and up to use a designated cup and official wristband to consume alcohol on public sidewalks, as long as they’re within the parameters of the district.

Devin Howland is the director of economic vitality for the city of Fayetteville and said this is a plan about nine months in the making, before the pandemic put things on pause. But when it was determined that people were typically safer outside and away from others, Howland, along with businesses said it was a good time to put the plan back in motion.

Howland said some success with this plan can already be seen now, with many businesses that have stayed closed because of the coronavirus choosing to open due to this option. 

There are some concerns being raised with the new plan, but Howland said as long as everyone is following the rules, the program should be a success.

“If we wanted to create a party atmosphere, it would run late at night and it would be concentrated on a small area of road,” Howland said. “This is not what we’ve proposed.”

“I just think this is a way to make more people feel comfortable getting out and having a drink if they have a lot more space to do it,” said Troy Gittings, owner of Bugsy’s on Dickson. “Also, just beyond that, beyond the pandemic, I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s long overdue.

The Fayetteville Police Department will help enforce the rules of the plan.

“It’s going to kind of be an educational thing,” said Sergeant Tony Murphy. “We’re going to have to educate the people that are down there. It’s new to us too, so it’ll be a work in progress and take some time for people to get used to it. “

The will run from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days a week with about 20 business participating.

This is a pilot program. It will end in January to give the city a chance to reevaluate to see what worked and what could be improved.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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