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Entertainment district could be set for weekends

One week after halting a vote on whether to relax open-container laws in the city’s downtown area, the Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday took steps toward a compromise.

Last month, a council committee discussed a proposal that would allow certain alcohol retailers located within or immediately adjacent to the entertainment district’s boundary to serve to-go alcoholic beverages in a designated cup, an idea that business and tourism officials said would benefit visitors and residents alike.

“I think it helps us to continue to promote how progressive this city is,” said Don Staley, CEO of Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, the city’s tourism and visitor recruitment bureau, on Tuesday.

But some backlash from residents who live near downtown prompted council members to give the proposal a second look, with a scaled-back proposal the latest version on the table.

In addition to eliminating a portion of 21st Avenue to exclude Innisfree Irish Pub from the boundary, the latest version advanced by the City Council’s public projects committee would allow to-go drinks to be sold between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, the only legally sanctioned hours during which booze can be sold on Sundays.

The full council won’t vote until next week.

But even that, for some, is a bit too much.

“If you wanted your children around drinking, you’d bring your kids inside a bar,” said historic district resident Lee Busby, who opposed the district. “We have plenty of establishments that are licensed to sell alcohol and that’s fine, let them knock themselves out.”

Council members heard both sides, and said they’d continue to listen and decide whether additional compromise is needed prior to next week’s vote.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to continue building something positive for

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