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Mitchell Main Street & Beyond backs sidewalk wine sales

Mitchell Main Street & Beyond, a downtown advocacy group, sent a mailer last week to about 2,500 registered voters in Mitchell urging them to support an ordinance allowing outdoor wine service downtown.

Mitchell voters will go to the polls Tuesday and decide the fate of the sidewalk wine ordinance, which the City Council passed last June but was referred to a public vote a month later.

The mailer was sent out Friday and was likely received by most people Saturday, according to MMS&B Executive Director Molly Goldsmith.

Goldsmith said sidewalk wine service could improve the economy and quality of life in downtown Mitchell.

"It's a great thing," she said. "A lot of really wonderful communities have something like this."

In the mailer, MMS&B takes on claims made by opponents of the sidewalk wine ordinance, including the notion it will lead to increased access and exposure to alcohol downtown. MMS&B notes the ordinance will allow only licensed establishments to take part, and only wine -- not beer or liquor -- can be served.

MMS&B says in the mailer the ordinance has the potential to attract more people, including tourists, to downtown businesses because of the increased activity outside.

"Street life is one of the most compelling features of a great downtown," Goldsmith said. "People really just want to be able to enjoy it."

Critics of the ordinance have also said the tables and chairs set up outside businesses as a result of the ordinance will take up too much room on the sidewalk. In the mailer, MMS&B says Mitchell's downtown sidewalks are 11 feet, 10 inches wide, or wide enough to allow two wheelchairs to get around tables and chairs.

Goldsmith said outdoor wine service would be a great economic development tool for downtown.

"It's not a make it or break it, but it is a piece," she said. "And you need all the pieces to complete the puzzle."