Greeley establishes a ‘common consumption’ zone

If all goes as planned, Greeley’s proposed “common consumption” zone could be up and running for the June 8 Blues Jam Kickoff.

What’s a common consumption zone? Well, it’s a designated area where people can legally bring drinks outside, rather than inside, of a bar. Drinkers are identified with special bracelets and drinks with special cups. While the zone’s operation dates and hours are still up for consideration, the Downtown Development Authority is moving quickly to get the zone up and running.

Greeley Community Development Director Becky Safarik fills us in about the zone and what it might do for the city.

Question: What area would the common consumption zone include?

Answer: It runs from about Seventh Street to 10th Street and between Eighth and Ninth avenues. There’s a smaller area that’s up for the initial implementation that runs from the alley between Eighth and Ninth streets to the alley between Ninth and 10th Street and Eighth and Ninth avenues.

Question: Who manages the common consumption zone?

Answer: We had a specific proposal by our DDA to set up a common consumption zone with very specific boundaries. Within that, a promotional association has to be formed under Colorado law.

In addition to being legally incorporated as an entity that promotes these entertainment activities, the promotional association has to have at least two people who own or lease property within the entertainment district. Everybody who is attached to the common consumption area also has to have a seat on that promotional association board.

Question: Who will administer the drinking bracelets and provide security?

Answer: The promotional association is the entity that promotes the use of the common area. They’re going to provide security and the bollards, or stanchions, that will physically restrict the area from people just walking in and out. They’ll probably set the hours of operation, the days of the week. Any communication and marketing of the area would be theirs to do as well.

Question: How much will this cost the city?

Answer: It shouldn’t cost the city anything, but we will be tracking any additional costs we incur.

We also put a sunset provision on our entertainment district and common consumption area legislation so we can review that in one year’s time and decide if there’s been any unanticipated impacts that we need to tweak.

The promotional association would have to provide any additional cleaning or security.

(The DDA estimates the promotional association will pay $5,000 for initial costs and approximately $2,000 a week for security, maintenance, etc.)

Question: Without a designated “beer tent” or 21-and-over zone, how are you going to ensure underage drinkers are not sipping margaritas?

Answer: The only place you can get alcohol is inside the liquor establishments. They’re training for underage drinking, not serving folks who have already had too much — things like that. They already bear the responsibility for appropriate alcohol dispensing and that will not be any different with this. The only difference is that people will be able to leave the establishment and go out onto the plazas.

Will there be someone who buys a drink inside an establishment and comes out and tries to pass it off to someone else’s? Possibly, but I don’t know that that doesn’t happen from time to time anyway. That’s why you have security and people managing that common area.

Question: How will this benefit the city?

Answer: We have very popular events in the downtown like blues jam, arts picnic, Friday fest —things like that — and this gives another attraction for folks that enjoy that kind of beer garden feel for an evening. They might want to come down and go to the Rio and be able to walk with their drinks out on the plaza in the evening and enjoy friends and entertainment.

This is really seen as a way to expand the arts and entertainment district downtown.

Question: How have businesses and retailers responded to this proposal?

Answer: The evening we had the public hearing to create the entertainment district, we had overwhelming support for it by patrons as well as business owners in the district.

We did have a couple of folks express concern about whether this would change the atmosphere from something families might enjoy coming down to with kids. We had one business that was worried about overflow being disruptive to other businesses in the area, but that hasn’t been the overwhelming consensus at this point.

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