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Porterdale sets area for drinking on 4th
Off-site purchasing will be allowed for specialized zone during Porterdale's Fourth of July festival

COVINGTON- A resolution allowing the consumption of alcohol in a designated special event zone during the Fourth of July Festival was approved by the Porterdale City Council at a special called meeting, Tuesday, June 9.

The default event zone would allow customers to purchase alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption from downtown vendors in a designated open container area during the city’s Four of July festival. The default special zone extends from the back side of the depot to the east to the entrance of the Porterdale Mill Lofts, south at the Welaunee Mill side of the bridge, and north to the north side of the gymnasium and end of the Porterdale Mill Lofts Parking area.

Vendors selling the drinks will be required to issue a colored wristband to customers, proving they purchased the beverage and are of legal drinking age. The council is asking that vendors have plastic cups the same color as the wristbands they issue. Council member Tim Savage said he and Josephine Kelly, director of the Main Street Program, will be speaking with the vendors about making the wristbands difficult to counterfeit. 

The council also voted to accept the Memorandum of Understanding of the Downtown Main Street Program, which had been presented at the work session held earlier in the evening. The agreement letter between the council and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Office of Downtown Development is usually signed in January and spells out the necessary requirements for the city to participate in the Georgia Classic Main Streets Program for 2015.

Those requirements include having a Board of Directors for the Main Street Program, setting and review boundaries for the target area of the program, and employing a paid professional downtown manager to administer the program.
At the earlier work session, the council approved the third and final reading of an ordinance modifying the city’s current ordinance on indecent exposure at the next city council meeting in July. The ordinances add a new section to the city’s code defining and prohibiting public indecency, setting fines and penalties, and establishing a defense that, if determined to be the case after a hearing or trial, a person was exercising rights protected by the Federal and State constitutions.

Josephine Kelly, Director of the Main Street Program, shared a proposal to adopt an open container at the gym policy for a future film festival series. Originally intended to be held in July, Kelly reported later that the group planning the event pushed back the dates to the fall so that they could seek sponsorships for the event.

The film festival, Kelly said, would be a free event of family-oriented films shown in the Porterdale gym. She reported that Steve Smith, a Covington resident with whom she worked while serving as the Covington Main Street Director, approached her with the idea of the festival. Smith, who works in film production in Stockbridge, would supply a LED screen, making it possible to air the films before complete dark.

She also said they looking into issuing tickets via an online ticketing agency and at city hall to keep track of the numbers planning to attend each film showing.

“If we got up to 800 attendees, I’d be happy. I say that because I know how popular these things are, It brings people downtown to eat and to walk the trails,” she said.

When asked about the open container resolution, Kelly said that while there were no plans to sell alcohol at the venue, families could bring their own drinks for the event.

The council supported moving forward with the planning of a film festival.

The council also accepted a revision to the vehicle policy about no smoking, which had caused considerable debate in discussions about a proposed ordinance establishing tobacco free parks. The section was removed from the ordinance and made a city polity.

City Clerk Megan Reid reported that she continues to work with United Bank to put in place credit card machines so residents can make payments of the payment of fines and utility fees.

Discussion was also held about the specifications of the Porterdale trail that would loop from the depot along the Yellow River. A grant from the Department of Natural Resources paid for the construction of a kayak launch and will pay for the paving of a recreational trail.

The current proposal is for an 8-foot wide concrete trail that loops from the depot around the city following the curve of the river. Council Member Lowell Chambers asked if it would be possible to expand the width from 8-feet to 12-feet, which would allow for bikes, strollers and access to those with disabilities.

Currently, City Manager Bob Thomson said, the amount left over from the grant is $45,000. An additional 4-foot in width would add $15,000 to the project. The Public Works Director, Robert Witcher, said he would return with cost estimates for widening the proposed concrete trail at a future meeting.