Marysville officials want to look at the possibility of expanding the Marysville Outdoor Refreshment Area.
Last summer the city created the Marysville Outdoor Refreshment Area (MORA) for one event, then expanded it to all of the city’s Friday Night Uptown events.
Within that district, residents can buy a drink from an event or restaurant and carry it throughout the Uptown. Residents can take that drink into participating businesses, but not into other liquor-selling establishments.
The MORA, which covers Fifth Street, from Court to Oak streets, Main Street, from Seventh to Fourth streets and Partners Park, isn’t permanent and is only active during specific events set by the city.
At Monday night’s council work session, councilman and Mayor J.R. Rausch suggested making the district a permanent part of the city.
Rausch said many other communities have an outdoor refreshment district open permanently through the summer. He suggested Marysville’s refreshment are could be open from 4-10 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He said there could be permanent signage in the Uptown.
Council member Henk Berbee asked if there have been any problems created by the MORA.
“We haven’t had any issues really at all,” Police Chief Floyd Golden said.
City Manager Terry Emery confirmed that many other communities have a similar district each week.
He said that after each MORA event, he meets with the police chief to discuss any potential issues and how the MORA could operate better.
He said that if there ever was an issue, city officials would meet to discuss “if that is something we should continue to do.”
Officials questioned whether the lack of issues was because there would be no issues or if it was because there is an increased police presence at the Friday Nights Uptown events.
“We may not decide to do that, but I think that is something we should really take a look at doing,” Rausch said.
The MORA discussion was part of a larger presentation by Marysville Recreation, Aquatics and Event Manager Amanda Morris. She said the city’s summer events — Friday Nights Uptown, Healthy Day in the Park, Touch a Truck, Adventures at Aldersgate, movies in the park and the city Bicentennial — were successful and “a lot of fun.”
Morris reported that Friday Nights Uptown events in May, June, July and October generated more than $27,000 between them.
The city budgeted more than $100,000 for the bicentennial celebration.
“I think that $100,000 took us a long, long way and really made it an outstanding event,” Emery said, noting the event was much more than “the financial impact.”
Morris said the city spent more than $106,000 on the two-day event, but with revenue generated nearly $30,000.
She said the decision to move the events from Court Street to the Partners Park area has been successful and has increased participation. She said there has been some pushback from some Uptown business owners.
“Usually we get some heartache from Uptown merchants any time we close things,” Morris said.
She said there continues to be some businesses concerned about closing streets and the timing of the closures, but it has been less recently.
“I don’t think they were prepared for what that impact would look like for them, but I think they were pleasantly surprised,” Morris said.
Council member Scott Brock asked if there is a way to quantify the benefits of having the events in the Uptown. He acknowledged that the impact is difficult to measure.
“It is more than revenue that evening,” Brock said.
He said there may be residents who come to the Uptown for the event who did not know about a shop. He said that while they might not buy something that evening, a week later they might return.
“Is that paying dividends? Of course,” Brock said. “We know it is, but what is that number?”
Emery said each business is impacted differently, depending on what type of business they run and “how and when they are open.”
Morris said the city is in the process of putting together some surveys and officials will work on trying to measure the total impact to the businesses.
Council member Nevin Taylor said there are several business owners frustrated with the events. He said one shopkeeper opened the books to show they lost money on Uptown Friday Nights.
“I don’t know the answer, but if there is a way to get them proactively involved, that might help,” Taylor said.
He added, “it is the right idea, we just need to work on our delivery.”
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