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OUR VIEW

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:43 PM

To drink, or not to drink that is the question.

Well, to be more accurate, to allow Berry's Restaurant to serve alcohol in Bresson Park or not is the question before Norwalk City Council. Berry's already has a deal with the city that allows the restaurant to serve food in the park, which is right next to its property, during the summer. However, city ordinance prohibits alcohol on city property.

Some city officials and council members oppose the proposal and worry what approving such a proposal would mean for the city. They don't fear that Berry's would become a wild party location as most people will simply have a glass of wine or bottle of beer with dinner but that such an exemption would set a bad precedent. The mayor said she already hears criticism because the city has allowed Berry's to use the park to serve food.

To that we say so what? Part of the charm of living in a small community is that the best needs of that community can be considered and each situation can be considered case-by-case. If the city is willing to let Berry's use the park, it ought to let Berry's be Berry's and serve everything on its menu, including alcohol.

There is a marked difference between allowing a place like Berry's to control alcohol use in a city park and letting any Tom, Dick or Harry get smashed in public. Berry's would be responsible for its patrons and their alcohol use, as they are inside at the Dinky. And if other restaurants want to serve alcohol, and they too meet the very detailed and extensive criteria of Ohio law, then the city should let them as well.

We all want more people to go uptown, spending their hard earned dollars here in Norwalk rather than outside the city. Outdoor dining is something that really could pull people to Main Street, rather than Sandusky or even Westlake and Cleveland.

At the very least, if council were to approve the measure for this summer only, it would serve as a test. If that "rowdy element" makes its way to Berry's, the city can rescind Berry's exemption but at least we would know.

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