Hickory to expand program to allow drinking in outside designated areas
It’s called the Downtown Social District, and it allows people to take alcoholic drinks outside to designated areas.
HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - A pilot program that showed a lot of success is expanding in Hickory. It’s called the Downtown Social District, and it allows people to take alcoholic drinks outside to designated areas.
It’s an effort to try and revitalize the business community after two devastating years under COVID-19.
Denise Wiseman is from Michigan just visiting the area. She says in the town she lives in near Ann Arbor they also have a Social District just like Hickory’s, and apparently, it’s a pretty popular idea.
“I’m from a small town called Manchester,” Wiseman said. “I do think it’s a very good idea yes. And it’s worked for us.”
But Rodger Dual says he’s got some concerns.
“Everything we do is going to affect our younger generation. You giving them that is going to give them more fuel to want to drink and do other things outside,” Dual said.
The program has been in place for about a year just in Union Square, implemented in the middle of the pandemic. In order to bounce back from COVID and help out surrounding businesses, the boundaries will now encompass other parts of downtown.
David Leonetti is the business services manager for the city and says this is a win-win for local retailers.
“We’re excited about it,” Leonettu said. “We can help grow our local restaurants and increase activity in our downtown area.”
Over at the Hickory Wine Shop, the manager Kristi Carpenter is all on board with the idea.
“I definitely think it’s going to be beneficial for us people, love coming to downtown Hickory with all of the renovations they’ve done.” Carpenter said.
But with the expanded program also comes guidelines.
- No drinking in the District past ten at night.
- Drinks have to be purchased on-site and only two at a time.
- Purchased drinks at one business can’t be consumed at another, and not outside of the District.
- Taking alcohol to the park where children play is definitely off limits.
But even with that Wiseman says the program really helped in her small town in Michigan.
“It works out very well,” Wiseman said.
City leaders say if it’s popular and feasible - the program could be expanded out even further.
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