City of Lansing considering resolution to keep social districts permanent

City of Lansing considering resolution to keep social districts permanent
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 10:04 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It won’t be long until the weather gets warmer.

You may want to roam around parts of Lansing while enjoying a cold beverage -- that’s where social districts come into play. In 2021, the city council approved outdoor social districts where people can eat food and drink alcohol in designated outdoor common areas.

They were originally put in place in Lansing to help businesses get back on their feet during the COVID pandemic, but now mayor Andy Schor is proposing they stay for good.

The provision that allows for social districts in Downtown Lansing, REO Town and Old Town expires in December, but since they’re so popular, there is support behind keeping them around.

Kevin Wilkerson recently moved to the area from Arkansas and he likes having the social districts in Lansing.

“You spend your money on getting a drink and then have to throw it away because you’re obligated to, it kind of sucks,” Wilkerson said.

He said he’d be excited to keep a setup where people could walk around a designated area outside and mingle without having to finish his drink before leaving the bar.

“It’s not like people don’t want to follow the rules or anything,” Wilkerson said. “But it’s kind of nice to be able to walk around and get air, you know? Even be outside.”

Travis Stolicker, the co-owner of Saddleback Barbecue, said it’s a great idea to make REO Town -- and other Lansing shopping areas -- where people can enjoy themselves and the shops.

“Getting community out into the neighborhood and keeping them down here, going to different shops -- that’s something that the REO Town community is really about,” Stolicker said. “Being able to take a cocktail or a drink if you want to and go between the different stores. It’s really all about REO Town community and that’s great for everybody.”

Wilkerson said that while the idea sounds good in theory, he does have some reservations.

“Is there going to be people kind of moderating around it to make sure people don’t leave drinking and driving?” Wilkerson asked. “Some people do get chaotic and they leave.”

To help keep track of participants in 2021, those who wanted to leave a restaurant or bar with an alcoholic beverage had to pour it into a specially marked cup.

Almost 80 communities in Michigan have established social districts. Lansing is the only city in Ingham County that has them.

The Lansing City Council is expected to take up the resolution in April.

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