Go-Cup ordinance signedBy BUSTER WOLFE,
Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker said he doesn’t expect any extra hardship on his officers with the creation of the downtown leisure and recreation district, which allows open containers in a restricted area.
Parker attended the ceremonial signing of the city ordinance by Mayor Toby Barker last Friday at the Thirsty Hippo. For Parker, the ordinance should not stretch his department’s enforcement.
“It’s not really going to change anything that we do,” he said. “Basically, it is self-contained within this district and that’s why they kept it small at first, to see how it goes. Right now, it’s going to be a burden on the police department, as I see it. But it will be a boon for the city, to help bring more people downtown.”
Parker said he is not expecting to increase patrols because of the ordinance, which goes into effect Sept. 22.
“We patrol this area anyway and we will have visibility in the area,” he said. “We will handle the situations as they arise.”
Barker added Hattiesburg to legislation establishing leisure and recreation districts when he was in the House of Representatives.
“It was a bill for three coastal counties to have recreation districts,” he said at the ordinance signing Friday. “Luckily, I read the bill before the session started. I ran down there with an amendment for any county where (Highways) 59 and 49 intersect.”
Barker said he wants the recreational district to only be the first.
“We hope to be adding more districts as we go forward,” he said. “This is a great way to start for us to flesh out our situations.”
Barker also outlined some of the regulations involved in the go-cups.
“The go-cups will be issued at the discretion of the establishments,” he said. “The owner, manager or bartender can refuse to do that if someone is in danger of being overserved. Only one container will be issued to anyone over the age of 21 and you have to finish your beverage before you go into another establishment.”
Barker presented copies of the signed ordinance to Ward 4 City Councilwoman Mary Dryden and Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association Executive Director Andrea Saffle for their work in spearheading the ordinance.
“I think this is going to create that walkable, aggressive city that we all want, keeping young professionals here in town,” Barker said. “I hope this is only the beginning of moving our city forward.”