Community members brainstorm ideas for managing downtown nightlife

VIDEO: Community members brainstorm ideas for managing downtown nightlife

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Tuesday, community leaders unveiled new ideas for managing the booming nightlife in Downtown Charleston.

The Late Night Activity Review Committee hosted the public event. They're taking suggestions in front of Charleston City Council next month.

The committee was organized last year for that very reason.

Last September, City council decided no to allow any new places opening up in the entertainment district to sell alcohol past midnight..

That includes parts of Meeting and King streets.

It's purpose, in part, was to get a handle on the large crowds frequenting downtown establishments.

After into went into effect, there was an outcry from local businesses that their voices were not being heard.

Then, the Late Night Activity Review Committee was created. It's a diverse group, made up of 21 members with all different perspectives, backgrounds and professions.

Larry Shirley, a former Charleston city council member is now a member of the Late Night Review Committee.

Shirley says it hasn't been easy for the committee to get to where they are now with ideas that they are very proud to share with the community.

"You've got some people who want the bars to stay open all night long and you've got some people who'd like to close at ten," said Shirley. "So, we've had to come together."

One idea he's excited about is changing when establishments have to close their doors.

"The bars can stay open until 3 a.m. if they chose to, but the alcohol, beer, wine, hard liquor has to be off the table at two," said Shirley.

The committee believes this could prevent large crowds from flooding the downtown sidewalks all at once, when bars close at 2 a.m.

Keith Purdy, a local bartender and caterer, isn't sure everyone will like that idea.

"So, that means it's going to be 3 o'clock before they can really clean up and go home," said Purdy, owner of A Southern Bartender. "So, I don't know if the industry is going to support it."

Another problem the committee wants to solve is late night parking.

"I hate going downtown cause its a nightmare to find a place to park," said Purdy.

The committee is proposing the current downtown parking garages offer cheap, overnight parking if late night visitors have had too much to drink and shouldn't be driving home.

"The facilities are not being utilized as much now as they should be," said Shirley.

Shirley says will not only make the city money, but cut down on drunk driving.

The Committee also wants to work with local bar and restaurants to educate employees.

"There's one thing I've always felt strongly about is that we need to train our bartenders to know when someone has had too much to drink and cut them off," said Purdy. "If they did we wouldn't have this problem on Upper King."

"We don't want to be a city that's known for a bunch of drunks," said Shirley.

These are just some of the ideas the committee plans to suggest to Charleston City Council in July.

For a full list of their recommendations, you can check out this link.

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