HELENA – Residents are divided over a proposal to allow open containers of alcohol in areas of downtown Helena.
At a Wednesday administrative meeting, citizens made their case for or against the new proposal put forward last week to allow alcoholic beverages in plastic cups.
The commission ultimately decided to move the issue forward and directed City Manager Ron Alles to draft language for a possible ordinance. The commissioners agreed it is still very early in the process and more public feedback is needed.
Many local business owners including those from Ten Mile Creek Brewing, The Hawthorn Bottle Shop and The Windbag Saloon spoke in favor of the proposal, saying it would allow patrons to be more sociable and move from one establishment to the other.
However, those that live in the area have serious concerns.
Ruth McArdle told commissioners she lives in the Placer building downtown and already deals with loud noise and cigarette smoke from the walking mall.
“An open container law will only make this problem worse if people are welcome to travel from bar to bar with no sense of time, possibly getting drunker and drunker as the day and evening progress,” McArdle said. “Would you like to walk your dog on a Friday night in those conditions?”
Commissioners offered many possible options to make the proposal more palatable, suggesting special police to monitor the area as well as changing the times that open containers might be allowed.