Although Grove City's new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area could by law begin as early as Thursday, June 20, it could be a few weeks before the cork will pop for the open-container area in the city's Town Center.

"We could legally start the DORA on June 20, since the effective date is 30 days after council passed the ordinance (on May 20)," said Andy Furr, executive director of Heart of Grove City, the nonprofit group that promotes the Town Center and proposed creating a DORA in the downtown area.

"Officially, we don't have a starting date as of yet, as we are still working on getting signage ready and there's a little bit of lead time still before the DORA cups will be ready to go," Furr said. "Once we have those items finalized, we can set a date to start."

If all would go well, the DORA officially would begin by June 29, when the first of four monthly Food Truck Festival and Shop Hop events take place, he said.

"That would be ideal because it's a special event we're hoping will bring a lot of people to the Town Center," Furr said. "But I'm not holding my breath. It's more likely to be sometime in July before the DORA would start."

The Heart of Grove City will spread the word using social media once the start date is determined, he said.

"As soon as we know, we'll get that information out, although it may take a little while for word to spread," Furr said.

Once the DORA is in effect, customers will be able to take the drinks they buy at bars and restaurants with them and consume them within the 15.81-acre section of Grove City's downtown that comprises the DORA district.

The DORA will be in effect from 2 p.m. to midnight Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for one year.

The nine bars and restaurants serving alcohol that are within Grove City's DORA district are: Board and Brush, 3306 Columbus St.; Parkers Tavern, 3998 Broadway; Plank's on Broadway, 4022 Broadway; Grandstand Pizza Shop, 4034 Broadway; Hop Yard 62, 4057 Broadway; Michael's Hibachi, 3985 Broadway; Local Cantina, 3937 Broadway; Zassy's Tap Room, 3940 Broadway; and Plum Run Winery, 3946 Broadway.

Each will have its own DORA cup in which to serve drinks to go, Furr said.

"One side of the cup will have a DORA mark or logo, and the other side will have the establishment's name," he said.

The open-container district will not operate when three special events are held -- the Grove City Homecoming held on the last weekend of July, the Boo Off Broadway on Halloween and the city's Christmas Celebration in December.

Before they enter another drinking establishment, customers will have to finish their drink and dispose of the cup in one of numerous recyclable receptacles that will be placed along the DORA route, Furr said.

"Part of the reason for that rule is for tracking purposes," to help make it easier to determine where someone who misbehaves while walking along or visiting a business in the DORA district bought their drink, he said.

"If we're seeing cups aren't being property disposed of, we can determine if they're coming from a certain bar or restaurant and figure out if there needs to be an increased effort to educate people about the DORA rules," Furr said.

The DORA is designed to help bring more people to the Town Center and have them spend more time in the downtown area, he said.

People will be able to take their drinks with them when they visit shops and other businesses within the DORA as long as the business opts in to participate.

Any business within the DORA will be able to post a sign indicating it will not allow someone with a drink to enter, Furr said.

"So far, we haven't had one business opt out," he said. "And that includes some businesses, like clothing stores, that I might have expected would be worried about having drinks spilled on their merchandise."

The proposed district includes more than 60 retail and commercial businesses.

The Heart of Grove City will be printing fliers and signs for doors and windows explaining the DORA and the rules under which it will operate, Furr said.

"We don't expect many problems," he said. "I think most people are going to act responsibly."

The city of Grove City is finalizing the signs that will mark the perimeters of the DORA, safety director Bill Vedra said.

"We'll place them along the sidewalk and they will in essence serve as the outline of the district," he said.

The city is responsible for creating the signs to indicate the district's boundaries while the Heart of Grove City will provide the signs that will be posted by stores indicating whether they will allow people with drinks to enter their buildings, Vedra said.

Initially, the DORA cups will be recyclable, but plans are to switch to compostable cups, Furr said.

The Heart of Grove City and the city will apply for funds from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio's 2020 Community Waste Reduction Grant program, he said.

The annual grant program helps pay the cost of waste reduction and materials diversion efforts of local government entities, including schools, universities, parks and nonprofit organizations in Franklin County.

SWACO awards grants ranging from $500 to $35,000. Applicants must contribute at least 25% of their project's cost.

Fourteen grants were awarded in the 2019 grant cycle, according to the SWACO website. Applications for the 2020 grant program will be available in July.

The details of the DORA application still are being determined, Furr said.

If the grant application goes through, the funds would help purchase the compostable cups and receptacles where they would be collected, he said.

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