Residents voice opinions about DORA

TROY — More than a dozen residents provided their point of view — the majority being negative — about the proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) in the downtown area of Troy at a city council meeting held at Hobart Arena’s Bravo Room on Monday.

A committee meeting regarding the issue will be held at 5 p.m. Aug. 10 at City Hall. No further information about the location or how the public can attend or provide feedback has been provided.

Troy’s Development Director Tim Davis gave a brief presentation of the DORA prior to the public hearing. There are approximately 40 communities that have adopted a DORA district in Ohio, including Greenville, whose 108-acre DORA was recently approved. A few of the parameters of the DORA includes: All alcoholic beverages must be in the official DORA cup with no outside container, can or bottle permitted; a patron can take the beverage from the point of purchase, but is not allowed to bring it inside another establishment that serves alcoholic beverages and must be disposed of prior to entering.

Troy’s proposed hours of the DORA are Wednesday through Friday 5 p.m. to midnight and noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday. The city of Troy reduced the size of the proposed DORA from 41 acres down to 21 acres. City officials said the DORA boundaries can be modified by future council action at any time. Applications are renewed every five years.

Davis said the goal of the DORA is to increase commerce and bring people to downtown Troy. He also said flashing pedestrian signals would be installed to improve crossing safety.

Troy Main Street Executive Director Andrea Keller listed the benefits of a DORA and said they were encouraged by the Heritage Ohio organization to seek the application to increase foot traffic to downtown areas and to entice patrons to visit local businesses as they walk around the district. Keller said a DORA would create the opportunity for businesses to cross-promote with one another. Keller said patrons could also take a drink along with them to Prouty Plaza for a concert or to go shopping after visiting the restaurants and bars. Keller said 22 Troy Main Street businesses support the DORA.

Troy Area Chamber of Commerce Kathi Roetter said 43 businesses are located within the DORA. She said because the chamber represents all businesses in Troy they are not endorsing the proposal because they can’t represent a segment of Troy businesses. Roetter said there’s no data to support the DORA’s economic impact, but she did say the cities of Hillard and Chillicothe reported a favorable increase in business and foot traffic. Roetter said she was able to contact 28 businesses within the DORA with 14 in favor, 11 neutral and three against the proposal. Other feedback included concerns with the hours, parameters of the program, education of the public and “rushing” the proposal without thinking of a long-term impact.

Residents that gave their opinions about the DORA:

• Saundra Bastian, owner of 16 N. Market St. since 2000, shared how she has had multiple complaints regarding her property from people using the mailbox as an ashtray and trashcan, urine being detected at the front steps of the property and parking issues. She has had trespassing issues from other businesses and patrons. She also listed the number of police incidents and calls to service with 147 from the restaurant/bar Submarine House next door.

• Dawna Elko, a resident of Troy, said Dunaway’s Beef and Ale has been omitted from the DORA and should be included if it is approved. Elko said Dunaway’s is ideal for the DORA due to its location to Hobart Arena and has not had the number of issues other downtown bars have had in comparison. Owner Sandy Dunaway said he didn’t understand why the city always leaves his business out of the proposals when they’ve been in good standing for years.

• Troy Rec Executive Director Kelly Snyder and a resident of Troy, said she is against the DORA and is concerned about the students and children who utilize the Rec for its day care and after-school programs.

“As the director of the Rec, we deal with teens every day. I’m just really concerned that the opportunity that is going to be made available to have access to alcohol is too great.”

Snyder said she believed those who are 21 would acquire alcohol and pass it along to teens, a lot of trash left behind and called it “a bad idea.” She also said she doesn’t see the benefit to businesses who aren’t open during the DORA hours and doesn’t believe the benefit outweighs the detriment of the program. She also corrected an incorrect statement made during the work session, which claimed the DORA would not impact the Rec because of its hours. Snyder said the Rec is open until 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays and Fridays until 5:30 p.m. and late events on Friday evenings.

• Brad Boehringer said he’s in favor of the DORA to revitalize business. He also said in terms of children being around alcohol, he said it would serve as a learning opportunity.

• Doug Page, a Troy resident, said he was neutral to the DORA, but said he was concerned about the timing of the issue with the coronavirus pandemic. He also asked who will pay for the cups and if they’ll be recyclable.

• David Pinkerton, a Troy resident, urged council to vote no for “this crazy idea of DORA” and said where ever there is alcohol there’s trouble. Pinkerton said it was a shame the DORA was being touted to make an economic impact.

“When are we going to stop this? What kind of reputation are you trying to give to Troy?” Pinkerton said.

Pinkerton also said alcohol takes money away from rent and groceries from families. He also said he listened to stories of alcohol-related abuse from his father who was a principal.

• Debbie Pike said she’s not 100 percent against the DORA, but she didn’t want Troy to turn into Dayton or Columbus. She also asked what’s to stop people from acquiring a DORA cup and using it for their own purchased beverages from a drive-through. She also said she’s concerned with criminal damage related to alcohol incidents in downtown and who will pay for it.

“Why do you guys have to have alcohol in everything the city does anymore?” she said.

She also said she was concerned about personal liability.

•Roger Griffieth, a Troy resident and retired police officer, said Troy doesn’t need a district like Dayton’s Oregon District. He said Troy’s “Bar Row” along North Market Street had issues such as bar fights, manslaughter incidents and contributed to family strife through lost pay checks from the bars. Griffieth said it was the city of Troy that helped clean up that area of town to include restaurants and small businesses to make the downtown atmosphere more friendly. Griffeith said during his 25 years as an officer in Troy, 80 percent of his worst calls he responded to were alcohol related and things haven’t changed and are worse for officers today.

• Troy resident Terri Easterday said she’s concerned with pedestrian traffic and is against the DORA.

“Do we want to be known for our drinking? Or do we want to be known for our businesses,” she said.

She said she won’t attend any of the “nice downtown concerts” if there are people drinking during them. She also said she was concerned that she’d be driving through Troy during the proposed hours to go to her church and pedestrian traffic was already an issue.

• Mike Partington, a resident of Casstown and a downtown business owner on North Market Street, said he remembers “bar row” as a kid and was not allowed to walk in the area.

“I think Troy is a very special community. But let’s try to keep it different and keep that heritage there.”

Partington said he has to clean his walks and lots on Saturday morning from the litter and other matter left behind from Friday night.

• Tom Kendall, former city council member and Troy resident, said he and his wife Bev are against the DORA.

“We do not understand how being able to carry a drink around the city of Troy makes Troy a more desirable place or a nicer community,” Kendall said.