The Fort Collins City Council gave preliminary hearing to a provision that would authorize early morning closure of Old Town Plaza.
The first reading of this ordinance resulted in a 5 to 2 vote in favor of the provision. If passed the second reading is passed, people in Old Town could receive trespassing citations from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Fort Collins Police Services proposed the plan Tuesday night, mentioning reasons for the closure including vandalism, public urination, fighting, public intoxication and transients bathing in fountains, among others.
“What we’re asking for is hours of operation for downtown,” said Sgt. Michael Steel of FCPS. “This is not a curfew.”
The proposal resulted from a partnership effort between the police force as well as the district attorney, the city manager and the Downtown Development Authority.
Chip Steiner, director of the DDA, said he predicts the closures would make Old Town Plaza more enjoyable and safe to the public.
Not everyone agreed, however. Council member David Roy voted against passing the ordinance.
“Old Town is the heart of our community,” he said. “This is a city that people should be able to use wherever they please.”
Council member Eric Hamrick agreed, also voting against the ordinance.
“This is public property, and I don’t think people really need a reason to be out in public,” Hamrick stated. “They have an individual right to go and do what they want, as long as they’re law abiding citizens.”
The two council members were the only ones who voted against passing the ordinance, though. The other five members, along with a hotel manager and bar manager from Old Town, supported the proposed closures.
Chuck Jones, manager of the club and bar Suite 152 in Old Town, explained that downtown businesses and bars have collaborated to form the Downtown Bar and Restaurant Association. Jones said the association has funded measures to reduce the problems in Old Town.
Efforts that the DBRA have already taken include strategic placement of Port-O-Lets to reduce public urination, the Transfort bus service extending its hours to give safe rides to intoxicated citizens and educational outreach to warn people of drinking dangers.
Mayor Ray Martinez supported the provision, comparing the closure to that of city parks, which close at 11 p.m. each night.
Edited by Shandra Jordan and Vince Blaser