Sidewalk decals placed at the entrances and exits of the DORA boundary are part of the proposed permanent DORA signage.

MOUNT VERNON — Between amending an amendment and adding restrictions about no alcohol at First Fridays, city council’s approval to change signage for the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) was anything but streamlined.

The original DORA, passed in 2021, designated the boundaries as the Central and General Business District, an area bounded by Gay Street, Phillips Drive, Mulberry Street, and Chestnut Street.

The legislation called for temporary signage that would be placed around the boundaries of establishments holding a DORA event. Council has since learned that DORA events cannot be restricted to a specific location within the DORA footprint.

Since the DORA boundary does not change, signage can be permanent rather than temporary. Lacey Filkins, director of Experience Mount Vernon, said the old boundary signage is lightweight and prone to being blown away or moved by passersby.

Additionally, it has to be set out and removed for each event and is confusing for event hosts and attendees.

Experience Mount Vernon requested permanent signage, including sidewalk decals placed at the entrances and exits of the DORA boundary.

At previous meetings, several council members said they disliked the sidewalk signs. Much of the discussion also centered on council’s preference not to have First Fridays be DORA events.

On May 22, Filkins said Experience Mount Vernon would be agreeable to Councilman James Mahan’s suggestion to try the new signage and, if it did not work out, revert back to the original signs.

Last night, Mahan moved to amend the legislation to state the new signs will be used through May 31, 2024. On June 1, 2024, the signage reverts back to the original signage.

Mahan’s amendment also requires council to hold a meeting no later than April 30, 2024, to review the effects of the permanent versus temporary signage to delineate the DORA boundary.

“My hope is that we can respect the work and effort of Experience Mount Vernon but yet also have a chance to review this after the 2023 season,” he said.

DOR exit sign

Noting he did not really like the new signs, Councilman Mike Hillier said he was torn between voting no on the amended legislation or amending the amendment to exclude First Fridays from DORA events and restricting DORA hours to event hours only.

For example, DORA hours on Saturday are from 11 am to 11:59 pm. Hillier does not want patrons to walk around downtown at 11 am with a DORA cup when the event does not start until 4 pm.

Noting he had not had a chance to research restrictions on hours since Monday’s meeting was the first time he heard the request, Law Director Rob Broeren said that based upon the inability to restrict DORA boundaries, restricting hours “probably would not fly.”

Filkins and Experience Mount Vernon Board President Todd Taylor said the DORA application states specific hours for the event.

“What you’re worried about is not even a thing, actually,” Taylor said. “The application determines the actual times of the event.”

“No one has applied for an all-day event. Even if an event is taking place all day, they apply for a specific period,” Filkins added.

Hillier made a motion to amend Mahan’s amendment to include there shall be no DORA events on First Fridays. Council approved Hillier’s amendment by a 4 to 2 vote. Council members Tammy Woods and Amber Keener voted no.

Council next approved Mahan’s amended amendment by a 4-2 vote with Councilman Mel Severns and Woods voting no.

Finally, with another 4-2 vote, council approved the amended legislation, granting a one-year trial of the permanent signage, requiring a review of the trial by council, and stating no DORA on First Fridays. Severns and Woods cast the no votes.

A Christian ultrarunner who likes coffee and quilting

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