ROSSFORD — Mayor Neil MacKinnon III has high hopes for a new vibe to emerge as the city takes the first official step in the process for establishing a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.

MacKinnon submitted an application for a DORA in downtown Rossford to Monday’s council meeting. The submission to council is a requirement of the Ohio Revised Code as the first step in the process.

A DORA would allow alcoholic beverages to be sold in authorized cups by licensed liquor establishments for outdoor consumption, within specific boundaries and hours.

“It’s exciting. It’s really the first step in the revitalization of the downtown. It basically helps us continue our mission to be the best live, work and play community in the country,” MacKinnon said. “I’ve always loved college towns, because I’ve always felt they have a soul that a lot of municipalities don’t have. I want the vibe and culture of a college town, mixed with art and entertainment, which will hopefully revitalize the downtown and bring more visitors.”

The idea of establishing a DORA in Rossford has been discussed for several years. MacKinnon said that those plans were taking shape as the COVID pandemic shutdowns happened, which resulted in a reprioritization of goals and needs within the community and administration.

“Yes, it is accurate, the pandemic affected those plans,” MacKinnon said. “It was a priority, but at the same time there were other more pressing things, especially as regards economic development, but now we’re on it.”

He sees the DORA as a key part to the revitalization of the downtown, by bringing new businesses that will help the economic development.

“I think it will attract more visitors. I think more people will come to Stroll the Street because of this and the entertainment that we’re bringing in. Also the improvements to the Ford Memorial Park and the city owned lot across the street, where we plan on putting in picnic tables and other features,” MacKinnon said.

The improvements to the lot also include a possible fountain and art murals.

According to Law Director Kevin Heban, the next steps in the process are giving public notice in at least one newspaper within 45 days of the application filing date with council, Feb. 13, that a public hearing will be held to discuss the plan. The plan will be available to the public at the Rossford city building for public inspection during that time.

The public hearing will be held after at least 30 days from the date of notice, but not more than 60 days after, during which the city council must vote for or against approval of the application. If not approved, the changes to the application can be made and the process is started again.

“(City Administrator Allyson Murray) and I will work on the notice tomorrow,” Heban said.

Murray, Chief of Police Todd Kitzler, Public Works Superintendent Tyler Kolb and Director of Planning Todd Audet took part in the preparation of the application.

Cup designs have also been chosen and they are shown in the documentation, as are the signs that will be posted.

The boundaries would be indicated by signage. The location would include 25 acres of the Rossford downtown, from the north side of Dixie Highway, in front of 146 Dixie Hwy., proceeding west to the intersection of Eagle Point and Dixie Highway, extending to 969 Dixie Hwy., but on the east side only. It also includes Superior Street from 153 Superior St. to the intersection of Glenwood Road and Superior Street. Each specific addresses are listed in the application.

The four minimum required DORA liquor permit holding establishments would be: Billy V’s, Danny’s, Moe’s Place, Forest View Rossford Lanes.

Hours of operation requested are Monday-Friday 4-10 p.m. and noon-11 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Patrons have until 11 p.m. to consume the DORA beverage Monday-Friday and until midnight on weekends and holidays.

Kitzler has already developed a safety plan. There may be costs for additional police services during DORA extensions for special events.

Sanitation services would be provided by the Rossford Department of Public Works, which would require the hiring of two additional employees within the first quarter of 2023.