Kalamazoo expands area to drink and walk downtown
KALAMAZOO, MI – The Kalamazoo Town Commission has taken action to expand the area where people can walk while carrying open containers of alcohol that they have purchased from an approved company, in an effort to help bars and restaurants facing challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee approved a resolution at the meeting on Monday, November 16, expanding the area to include additional businesses that will be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages in the region.
The expansion must be approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission before it takes effect. Officials did not provide details on the estimated start date.
Monday’s action expands the area the city originally designated in August.
Twenty companies were in the area of origin, and this action allows 13 others, including Park Club, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Kalamazoo Hotel Partners, Tin Can Bar, Shakespeare’s Pub, Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Water Street Coffee Joint, Bell’s Brewery, HopCat, Food Dance, Maru Sushi, Old Dog Tavern and 600 kitchen and bar.
See the map above for the full list of eligible businesses.
Citizens are encouraged to socialize while purchasing beverages from establishments in the area and transporting them to the approved part of downtown. The new rules will be in effect Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight.
The updated map comes just as a new order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services goes into effect this week to ban food service at Michigan restaurants and bars. The ordinance goes into effect Wednesday and also forces cinemas, bowling alleys, high schools, ice rinks, non-tribal casinos, arcades and group fitness classes to close.
Mayor David Anderson called the area a “huge expansion” and asked about the potential problems of the change.
Haan said that “we are not very worried” about the expansion.
Commissioner Chris Praedel called for a discussion on the matter before a vote. He explained that the new rules would not allow alcohol in Bronson Park as presented and that the commission should look into this issue. He said the park is the prized gem in the city center and pointed out that people can drink near the park anyway.
“There are a lot of businesses involved and I think that would be a great way to support them,” Praedel said during the discussion.
Attorney Clyde Robinson said there would be plenty of other issues to consider before making a change to allow alcohol in the park.
Robinson said it would be possible to make a change at the first meeting in December if commissioners so wished.
Commissioners and city staff spoke about some of the challenges of a quick change to allow drinks at Bronson Park. Robinson said a change to the ordinance could be made to allow it, but officials should allow public input before making the change.
Commissioner Eric Cunningham asked about companies that requested the opportunity but may not have been included.
“We’re a bit of a crisis mode, or on the precipice,” Haan said, speaking of businesses affected by the coronavirus. The effort is aimed at helping companies make sales, he said.
The intention in August was to try to allow drinking and walking with a pilot zone, Hann said. The organization has received good feedback from companies and has not had any nuisance issues, he said.
The commissioners passed an amendment to allow the inclusion of Bronson Park in the area, and the commissioners will have to meet again to give final approval to expand the area to Bronson Park.