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Gainesville council extends First Friday alcohol consumption
Beverages include only beer and wine sold at downtown restaurants
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First Friday events in Gainesville will again include drinks to go.

The Gainesville City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that allows for the public consumption of alcoholic beverages during the events on the first Friday of each month.

The decision extends a previous allowance the council made for the events from May until September, according to City Manager Kip Padgett.

The to-go beverages, which are limited to beer and wine in the resolution, must be purchased in a clear plastic container from a downtown restaurant.

Main Street Gainesville Manager Angela McFarlin Thompson told council members allowing the monthly events year-round will help downtown businesses make more money during the monthly First Friday events.

"(Business owners) did feel that it would be beneficial for the business," said Thompson.

Thompson said a number of the restaurants plan to have live entertainment during the events. Some months, the city will sponsor live entertainment on the square.

The newly relaxed rules come with a caveat that allows Padgett and Police Chief Brian Kelly to reinstate the city's original alcohol ordinance — to prohibit the sale of alcohol for public consumption — if problems arise.

Two City Council members — George Wangemann and Robert "Bob" Hamrick — opposed the move Tuesday.

"I don't have a problem with the businesses being open at that time," Wangemann said. "My problem lies in the area of alcohol consumption with families, including children, being there at the event ... families and alcohol do not mix."

Hamrick also said he was disappointed that downtown retailers were not open during the First Friday events in September.

"Most of them try to stay open but some of them are not able to," Thompson said.

In other business, the council gave final approval to a new ward map, which would be used in the 2013 municipal elections if approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. According to City Clerk Denise Jordan, the city has 30 days from Tuesday to send the map to the Justice Department for approval.


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