Erie City Council tables vote on open container law
Erie residents are still allowed to drink alcohol in public parks, at least for now. That's after Erie City Council Wednesday tabled a vote that would impose an open container law.
ERIE, Pa. - Erie residents are still allowed to drink alcohol in public parks, at least for now.
That's after Erie City Council Wednesday tabled a vote that would impose an open container law.
"If you can drink on State Street, then you should be able to drink down here on Perry Square," said Councilwoman Sonya Arrington, who first asked for the vote to be delayed so the public could have a chance to provide input.
The proposal would prohibit the consumption of alcohol and open alcoholic drinks in city parks and playgrounds. But exceptions would be made for major events, like 8 Great Tuesdays and the Erie Downtown Partnership's Block Party festivities.
Councilman Bob Merski was the lone "no" vote, pushing for the vote of the ordinance's first reading. An ordinance needs two "readings" before it can be voted upon.
Merski said the law would make the parks a more family-friendly place, and would comply with the city's comprehensive plan, Erie Re-Focused.
"The (Erie) Downtown Partnership has asked for this multiple times over the years," he said. "Erie Insurance is right next to Perry Square, but this effects every park."
Erie is one just of a few cities in the country -- including Las Vegas and New Orleans -- that still do not have an open container law.
Council members are expected to meet with Erie Police Chief, Donald Dacus, after their Nov. 1 meeting to help clarify this ordinance.
"We had some questions about where this was going to be applied, how this was going to be applied, the exceptions," said Council President Casimir "Kaz" Kwitowski.
Critics of the ordinance say the law should be uniform covering all areas of the city.
"I'm all for public safety," Arrington said. "But what you do for one, you've got to do for everybody."
The city does not have a specific law on the books regarding open containers, only those for public drunkenness and other similar violations.
"Eventually, we're going to have make a decision on what kind of city do we want," Merski said.
Council also approved a resolution Wednesday night formally opposing "right-to-work" legislation, similar to that Erie County Council passed in recent weeks.
Merski also said Council could take a vote in the coming weeks decriminalizing marijuana in the city of Erie. The move would push lawmakers to allow police to charge someone with a summary offense rather a misdemeanor.