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Tuscaloosa city leaders propose changes to entertainment district

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The City of Tuscaloosa wants to make changes to its entertainment district, but not everyone is happy about it. Currently, the district operates only on the weekends, allowing for open container in parts of downtown.

Business Owner Dan Robinson had the vision for a Tuscaloosa entertainment district.

"I think it's been really good for downtown, parents visiting, people coming in for gamedays," Robinson said.

He said his business, Cravings, and others are enjoying a spike in sales, all because customers are allowed to take alcoholic drinks to-go.

"It's a restaurant and retail event," Robinson said, "Not a bar event."

City leaders seemed to agree. They have monitored the district closely, and recommended a seven days a week system, but with a smaller boundary.

"We brought a recommendation to the council that was operationally better for city operations, and what we felt like we would be able to more easily communicate, and create less confusion for the users of the entertainment district," Deputy Director of Infrastructure and Public Services Jarrod Milligan said.

The full-time proposal, however, took residents of the nearby historic district by surprise.

President of the Original City Association Kelly Fitts said they worked very hard to negotiate the previous ordinance in February, and were greatly surprised to find out the city wanted to expand the entertainment district's days and hours.

"We love downtown Tuscaloosa...we don't want to live anywhere else," Fitts said, "But we really fight very hard to protect the quality of life we have created here in Tuscaloosa."

City leaders said there is no deadline set for making the proposed changes to the entertainment district. The policy committee is discussing logistics before turning their recommendations over to the council.

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Milligan said Tuscaloosa residents will be able to voice their opinion on this at a public meeting in the future.

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