The Bossier City Council has reintroduced a proposed ordinance that would allow open containers of alcohol, this time in a more narrowly defined area of downtown.
The council approved the first reading of an ordinance to establish the Festival Plaza Region. The region includes Barksdale Boulevard from Mansfield Street to Minden Street in the recently redeveloped East Bank District. The ordinance also would amend the city’s public drinking law to allow people to drink from designated containers within the Festival Plaza Region.
The open-container provisions of the ordinance are similar to those in an ordinance that was defeated on a 4-2 vote on Dec. 5. That ordinance extending the open-container area from the East Bank District to Horseshoe Casino, the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets and Margaritaville Resort and Casino. The open-container provisions include:
- Open containers would not be permitted during the hours of 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- Possession of alcoholic beverages in any parking area in the region would be prohibited.
- Visitors could leave restaurants and establishments with alcohol only in the designated non-glass container, limited to 16 ounces. Each container would bear the name or logo of the establishment from where it was purchased.
- The designated containers could not be re-used.
- It would be unlawful for visitors to bring their own alcohol into the region and dispense from an ice chest, vehicle, recreational vehicle, etc.
- Underage drinking would be prohibited.
The city spent almost $15 million renovating a mile of Barksdale Boulevard, repaving the road and installing a festival plaza for special events. Allowing people to have open containers in Festival Plaza was part of the impetus for the ordinance in the first place.
“This is not designed for anything other than to encourage Festival Plaza to be utilized, to have festivals down there,” said councilman Don Williams. “We don’t have any way to have a festival down there now. This is trying to save what the city has invested.”
Ben Hart of Flying Hart Brewing pointed to the grand opening celebration for the East Bank District in late November as a sign of the potential for festivals and business alike in the area.
“It was a huge success,” Hart told the council. “My business was packed from the moment the festival started until it closed. I can tell you there were many, many people who did not leave the brewery to go watch the fireworks because they couldn’t take their drink with them. I think there would be many more people across the street in the Festival Plaza area during festivals and different events if this was allowed.”
Councilman David Montgomery, who voted against the ordinance, expressed his concern about the city’s risk of being sued by businesses excluded from the region.
“If I was excluded from that when I was originally to be in it, I would want to know why you are taking me out of it,” he said during the council meeting. “It is our duty and obligation, when we do establish a new ordinance, to look at the potential to be sued. What is the potential for loss to the city of Bossier?”
The council will vote on the Festival Plaza Region ordinance at its next regular meeting on Jan. 16.
By Scott Anderson