Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dealing with Excessive Drinking; A Workshop Considers That Problem in the Entertainment District

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dealing with Excessive Drinking; A Workshop Considers That Problem in the Entertainment District

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - Proposals to shut down bars that break the law and to restrict minors and certain alcohol promotions didn't sit well with some participants in a recent workshop on excessive alcohol consumption in the downtown entertainment district.

About 50 people attended Thursday's workshop, which was meant to refine dozens of suggestions offered at the first workshop on July 28 to improve downtown safety.

The city is seeking new ideas because other efforts, such as increasing the police presence in the area, aren't working.

While they weren't on the agenda, paid parking and a proposal to close First Street North on weekend nights barged into the discussion.

Mayor Fland Sharp asked participants to gather in small groups to consider six short-term solutions compiled from the previous meeting and cite the pros and cons of each of these ideas:

- Require bars and restaurants that aren't complying with city and state laws to shut down.

- Eliminate alcoholic beverage promotions, such as all you can drink, under 21 nights, free drinks and late night specials.

- Require bars and restaurants that sell alcohol to only allow access to people 21 and older.

- Improve lighting where needed.

- Better self-policing of alcohol beverage training for servers to deter overserving and underage drinking.

- Improve downtown security.

Participants generally agreed to improved lighting, security and server training, but responses were mixed on proposals to restrict certain promotions, shut down bars that don't comply with laws or restrict customers based on age.

Some business people thought those proposals were too extreme.

"Government shouldn't tell a business how to run or compete," one participant said.

Others thought they had merit and asked the city not to penalize businesses that hadn't caused problems. …

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