ROSSFORD — In an effort to revitalize the downtown area, city council passed the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area ordinance that has been in the works since 2019.
“We started in 2020. No, 2019, and then COVID hit and really stalled those plans. Most importantly, the law changed,” Councilman Chris Heban said.
Once council found out it only needed two restaurants, members knew they could tie Billy V’s, Danny’s and Mo’s in and really make things happen quickly.
Heban’s work on bringing back Rossford’s downtown convinced him that a DORA was a good idea.
“I think foot traffic is going to be the lifeblood of revitalizing downtown. It’s something that when we worked with O’Brian Architects and Gateway Planning, they said ‘foot traffic, foot traffic, foot traffic.’ So now local businesses can participate in DORA if they’d like to. So people can get out and enjoy the warm weather, and hopefully, utilize all the privately owned business we have downtown.”
Both Heban and Mayor Neil MacKinnon III see it also helping to increase the popularity of the various warm weather events that take place in the city.
“During Stroll the Streets, we have the big food truck lineup,” Heban said. “We usually have a live bands. We just bought a stage for Ford Memorial Park, so people will be able to go to Mo’s, Danny’s or Billy V’s, and Billy V’s is right across the street from where most of that action is happening.”
MacKinnon believes that there will be a synergistic effect to that increased popularity of the downtown.
“It gives investors more of a reason to come in. Especially in the hospitality and the food and beverage industry,” MacKinnon said. “It helps create a synergy and that helps create investment.”
MacKinnon said that the council’s next step is state filing and approval of the documentation, which he estimated will take a week’s time for the DORA to take effect.
“It’s really the last step in the revitalization of our business district,” MacKinnon said. “It’s a designated area. It basically goes from the Rossford Lanes to Billy V’s and everything in between on the opposite side of the street from the school.”
There was very little debate.
Councilwoman Brenna Reynolds had asked that the legislation have one more reading, even though she supported it.
“I understand that we have given the public a lot of opportunities to communicate to us about how they feel about this,” Reynolds said. “But I would feel more comfortable if we gave the public a little more time, for it to go at least to a second reading.”
MacKinnon and Heban disagreed.
“We’ve been working on this for over a year. We’re the last community to not have this. In effect, I think it’s crucial if we’re going to revitalize the downtown.” MacKinnon said.
“We had a public hearing … and no one showed up,” Heban said.
MacKinnon said that he has heard only positive things, except from one individual.
The vote in support was unanimous. Councilman Robert Ruse was absent from the meeting, but excused.
At the end of the council meeting, resident Jeff Appelhans, wearing an anti-DORA T-shirt, voiced opposition to the already passed legislation. Among the issues he brought up, some unrelated to the DORA, including police watching for speeding golf carts instead of people who might violate DORA rules.
“We’re not planning on any extra resources for DORA. Our surrounding neighbors seem to do it with no problem whatsoever,” MacKinnon responded after the meeting.