FAIRBORN — Fairborn City Council voted May 1 to officially consider 5/3 Commons, located at the corner of Main Street and Grand Avenue, a city park. The space is sometimes used for downtown parking, but is also home to a number events, according to city officials.
“We have some opportunity to bring more people downtown — which is really the bottom line and what we are looking for — through the operation of more special events at that location, or through expanding our special event offerings,” Assistant City Manager Pete Bales said.
The space houses the weekly farmer’s market, annual downtown Christmas events and a number of Air Force Marathon Flyzone activities, among others. Bales said the Fairborn Parks and Recreation Division already takes responsibility for the area as it currently hosts programs there, maintains it and coordinates with the city’s street department for additional maintenance. Although 5/3 Commons is now officially considered a city park, its name will remain as it stands now.
“There’s no name change in the works,” Bales said. “Fifth-Third Bank was very instrumental in the revitalization of that area with the fencing, columns and designation and donation of that area.”
At the commencement of summer 2015, council passed an ordinance that would allow alcohol to be served at special events within city parks as long as event organizers obtain a permit and follow the rules. No events since passing the ordinance have included alcohol, but following council’s vote to consider 5/3 Commons a city park — it could start in the future.
Fairborn’s Parks and Recreation Division is planning a bluegrass festival to take place downtown in the coming months to wrap up the summer season, which could be the city’s first event to allow the consumption of alcohol.
“We have a couple of local wineries that would like to not only sell their local wine at the farmer’s market, but offer wine tastings, which seems to make sense to us,” Bales said. “Also, we feel like we could operate some special events, like the bluegrass music festival, and have 5/3 Commons serve as our ‘beer garden’ area as an attraction.”
“[If] we designate 5/3 Commons as a public park … it would allow our alcohol policy to be applicable to that location and we would be able to expand those program offerings there and bring [more] people downtown, which is our main focus,” Bales added.
The ordinance specifies that the serving of alcohol at special community events can only take place within designated areas of city parks after a permit is granted. Event organizers must first complete an application, which is reviewed by the Fairborn Police and Fire Departments, Parks and Recreation Division, Fairborn Street Department as well as the city manager, who can all apply conditions before granting permission.
Individuals wishing to enjoy a “cold one” at a city event must stay within a designated space and purchase the beverage at the event. The ordinance does not allow anyone to “bring their own beer” and if they step outside of the designated space with the alcohol in-hand, they could be ticketed for an open container violation.
Deputy Mayor Paul Keller said officially considering 5/3 Commons a city park could allow some flexibility to downtown functions and Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick agreed.
“I see this as a real opportunity,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have an ordinance in place that is somewhat restrictive, but if people follow that it shouldn’t get out of hand and out of control. I think this will be good for downtown and it opens up a lot of opportunities for vendors to come in and offer different things.”
Reach Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.