Rock Springs Council Approves Downtown Open Container Ordinance

Rock Springs Council Approves Downtown Open Container Ordinance

ROCK SPRINGS – Action by the Rock Springs City Council Tuesday night will allow residents to enjoy liquor or a malt beverage while outside in the downtown area, though Council members are keen to keep an eye on what happens next.

The ordinance only allows consumption of alcoholic beverages June 1 through Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to midnight. Additionally, the ordinance limits alcoholic beverages that can be consumed to those purchased from participating downtown businesses and require patrons to wear wristbands provided by businesses. The cups containing the beverages are required to be disposable and marked to identify where the beverage was purchased from. If the person doesn’t have a cup and wristband, they can be cited for having an open container.

The ordinance was unanimously passed after its third reading before the Council, but questions regarding issues related to enforcement and concerns about waste and litter were raised prior to approval. Rock Springs Police Department Chief Bill Erspamer doesn’t believe the ordinance will result in increased open container violations and said there won’t be special patrols to enforce the ordinance.

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“As it’s written now, I really don’t see anything problematic for us,” Erspamer said.

Dave Lansang, the director of parks and recreation for the city, said his department is working towards not increasing the workload of its employees, saying it could be one thing that causes the department to divest its workload and reduce the services they can provide. The department is responsible for the public trash receptacles throughout the parks in the city. The idea of putting the burden of providing trash bins on businesses was also mentioned, with Mayor Max Mickelson agreeing that the city could recommend they provide trash removal.

“If littering becomes a problem, if people aren’t following the ordinance and they’re just bringing their own alcohol, it only takes six weeks to change it back,” Mayor Max Mickelson said. “So hopefully folks deal with it responsibly and appropriately and if they don’t, then we’ll just say, ‘well, we tried and never mind.'”

While no one spoke for or against the ordinance, the Council received a letter in support of its passage by the Rock Springs Urban Renewal Agency/Main Street organization, signed by seven Main Street board members.

“Within Wyoming itself, various communities such as Laramie, Cheyenne, and Casper have allowed for open container in the historic downtown district with great success,” the letter reads. “In fact, Cheyenne recently went from a summer only open container ordinance to allow for open container year-round. Even some of the smaller communities in our state allow for this.”

The letter also states that Main Street has been trying out the idea of allowing open container during the Main Street Markets without issue.

“We believe it is time to expand this to the entire downtown district,” the letter states.