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WILSON CITY COUNCIL

City OKs downtown social district

Posted on June 18, 2022

Updated on June 20, 2022

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Casita Brewing Co. taproom manager Shaun Breen pours a beer on Friday at the downtown business.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Casita Brewing Co. taproom manager Shaun Breen pours a beer on Friday at the downtown business.

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7821

Downtown businesses are upping their social quotient thanks to an ordinance the Wilson City Council passed Thursday.

“Thank you guys so much for supporting our social district in historic downtown Wilson,” Casita Brewing Co. co-owner Mahalia Witter-Merithew said during the council meeting. “I think it is going to be a really good draw to bring in new businesses and encourage young people to live in our downtown area.”

In May, city staff presented Wilson council members with the details of social districts, which were legalized in North Carolina last fall. The legislation allows cities to designate a specific area where participating N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission permit holders can sell alcoholic drinks in clearly labeled cups and allow customers to take their drinks with them into other participating businesses like art galleries and gift shops.

“We have a lot of people who have worked really hard to make downtown a vibrant place and for it to be a destination,” said Marty Garris, co-owner of Tig’s Courtyard and incoming president of the Wilson Downtown Development Corp. “One of the things brought up in conversation was how to increase foot traffic, and we’ve come up with some events, but we all think this will help as well.”

Once the state approves Wilson’s plan, participating businesses will have signs explaining how it works for customers who want to sip on a drink while discovering all downtown has to offer. Witter-Merithew said she hopes businesses can roll out the social district in July.

HOW IT WORKS: Click here to read our previous coverage of Wilson's social district plans

“We has spent time talking to downtown stakeholders about the possibility of the city implementing this, and the consensus is positive,” Reggie Harrison and Jack Wiggins wrote in a letter to city officials about the social district. “Small businesses in our downtown feel this will help them recover from the pandemic and drive more customers through their doors.”

The district will run from the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park between Goldsboro and Douglas streets up to Nash Street, down to Pine Street and back toward Goldsboro along Barnes Street. Patrons can take advantage of the ordinance from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, but all cups must be disposed of before they leave the district. Visit the shortened link tinyurl.com/mpz35323 for more information and a map.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Before city officials approved the $268,426,160 budget for fiscal year 2022-23, former Wilson City Council candidate Mark Aldrich spoke in support of Councilman Donald Evans’ request to increase the allocation for sidewalks from $50,000 to $200,000.

“Fifty thousand dollars is about half a mile of sidewalks, and it is insufficient,” he said. “...It is unsafe to walk across the street, so I prefer additional funding to make it easier for kids to walk to school and cut down on the need for buses.”

Evans’ request was worked into the budget, which the council approved without further discussion.

Councilmen Evans, Tom Fyle, Derrick Creech and Logan Liles were sworn in for another term following wins during the May 17 election. Councilman James Johnson was reelected as mayor pro tempore.

The council also approved a request from the N.C. Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit to 45 mph on Packhouse Road for 1.306 miles west of N.C. 58.

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