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Editorial: Focus on keeping the good times good for everyone

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opinion River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

River Falls, through its chamber of commerce, has set up and marketed a variety of neat events that draw people to our city. The recent Cruze-In shows for auto and motorcycle fans have been one of the big draws.

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However, last week the City Council heard concerns from one its members, Christopher Gagne, about allowing alcohol use outside on Main Street and closing off a few downtown streets, including Main, which diverts and restricts traffic and parking, and may cut off some businesses.

Other information emerged that Gagne isn't the only one receiving feedback and passing on concerns about outside alcohol use and street closures.

Said Council Member David Reese: "I've never really been sure why people need to take their beer outside and go from bar to bar." The alcohol-use issue has also been a concern for our police department.

While the council went on to approve open container and street closures for some big events, like the upcoming St. Patrick's Day Bed Races, this remains an issue to watch. It might need more analysis and discussion someday.

Our view is that street closures should be rare and of limited duration. The downtown doesn't need to be cordoned off all day. That traffic disruption inconveniences many drivers and may hurt sales at certain stores and shops.

Open-container drinking downtown is also of questionable value and not in the best public's interest, unless done rarely and for a very brief time.

Most people, especially families, who are on the street for a particular event but not for drinking don't want to be around groups of drinkers. People trying to patronize a local business or trying to get through the downtown likely aren't eager to put up with drinkers either.

The chamber's many sponsored events, from River Dazzle to Showdown on the Kinni, give our community attractions that both local residents and visitors can take in and savor. Hopefully that won't change. But related concerns over drinking and street closures shouldn't be ignored.

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