Downtown Rome will become an open container district three days a week, starting Aug. 5.
The third time around was the charm for supporters of an ordinance allowing public consumption of alcohol. City commissioners approved a 90-day trial period on a 5-3 vote Monday night. Previous efforts failed in 2017 and 2020.
Commissioners Jamie Doss, Randy Quick, Bill Collins, Mark Cochran and Wendy Davis voted in favor. Commissioners Bonny Askew, Sundai Stevenson and Jim Bojo cast dissenting votes.
Prior to the vote, 14 people spoke in favor of the trial period and 5 spoke in opposition.
Billy Newby, owner of the Newby Farm & Vineyard wine tasting room on Broad Street, said that during special events that allowed public consumption, not a single underaged person had attempted to buy a beverage from his business.
“In fact, most of them looked like my parents,” Newby said.
The Rev. David Harper of Hollywood Baptist Church said the Rome Police Department is shortstaffed and he wondered how the rest of the city might be hurt by a need to concentrate patrols downtown.
Real estate executive Bill Temple urged the commissioners not to be afraid of change while the Rev. Terrell Shields of Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church said, “the whole things centers around the almighty dollar.”
The trial period will run from Aug.5 through Oct. 30 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Also on Monday, commissioners sent a proposed agreement for the city schools to continue managing Barron Stadium back to the General Administration Committee for a third review.
Commissioner Bill Collins said it contained a lot of language that had not been approved by the committee, including some financial accountability requirements.
But before the committee looks at it again, City Manager Sammy Rich and City Attorney Andy Davis were instructed to try to hammer out details with School Superintendent Lou Byars and the school system’s attorney Chris Twyman. Tourism Director Lisa Smith and the system’s athletic director John Reid will also be a part of that meeting.
Commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement with Floyd County that splits a little more than $17,000 from the 2021 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant. The city and county police departments will use the funds for new stun guns. The county police also plan to buy field breathalyzer equipment.