City Council today passed an expansion of Savannah's to-go cup open container ordinance, for a pilot period of 90 days.
The bulk of the new allowed area essentially now includes a ribbon where open containers are now legal on each side of Bull Street all the way down to Victory Drive, with a small expansion to include a portion of Starland.
It also includes — a bit more controversially — most of Forsyth Park.
Bob Rosenwald — speaking as himself but who is also a member of the Downtown Neighborhood Association — spoke against the inclusion of Forsyth Park.
"Forsyth Park is a special place, a family oriented place... it's only a matter of time before we're asked to include all of Forsyth Park north to Jones Street," he said. "I'd also point out there's a kid's playground immediately adjacent to Collins Quarter Forsyth Cafe."
Bridget Lidy, the City's Director of Planning, Zoning, and Urban Design, said one of the advantages of the pilot program is its division into three zones — thus allowing the City to terminate the program in one zone if it becomes problematic, without having to cancel the entire pilot or affect other zones.
Specifically, the zones are:
Zone 1: The Victorian Neighborhood to include the area from the centerline of Park Avenue between the centerline of Whitaker Street to the centerline of Drayton Street and along Bull Street from the centerline of Park Avenue to the centerline of Anderson Lane;
Zone 2: The Thomas Square Neighborhood to include the area from the centerline of Anderson Lane to the centerline of Victory Drive along Bull Street to include DeSoto Avenue between 40th Street and Maupas Lane;
Zone 3: Forsyth Park to include the area from the centerline of Hall Street between Drayton Street and Whitaker Street to the centerline of Park Avenue and within Forsyth Park to include the northern portion of the Fort at Forsyth Park;
The pilot program originated with the Victorian Neighborhood Association, in an attempt to boost businesses along the burgeoning Bull Street corridor.
The Victorian area already successfully completed a pilot program for the so-called "T Zone" immediately south of Forsyth Park.
Mayor Van Johnson and Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier echoed concerns about allowing open containers in the park, outside of the occasional special event permit event, such as Picnic in the Park.
"To allow drinking in Forsyth Park creates a special situation that I don't think will be tenable for the remainder of our parks," Johnson said
"It's a slippery slope," said Lanier. "If we allow drinking in Forsyth Park, we'll have it in Daffin Park. If we allow it in Daffin Park, we'll see it in Bowles Ford Park. If it's allowed in Bowles Ford Park, we could have it in Hudson Hill Park."
Alderman Nick Palumbo pointed out what he called a "to-go cup speed trap" which will exist in the area from Jones Street down to Forsyth Park, where to-go cups will be illegal between the allowed zones.
Currently, the to-go cup ordinance applies to most areas of the Historic District from Jones Street north to River Street, bounded on the west by MLK Jr Boulevard and roughly East Broad on the east.
In the end, the measure passed 8-1.
It takes effect immediately and is set to expire Sept. 25 unless Council opts to conclude it sooner.