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Fort Walton Beach open container laws may soon change

FORT WALTON BEACH  --  Walking around with a drink isn't allowed in downtown Fort Walton Beach, but that could be changing.

City leaders are trying to make downtown more of a draw.
Their plans could include some new open container rules.

Outside Fokker's Sports Pub, with more details on the plan
The sign says it all, no alcohol beyond this point.
But if you want to sip an adult beverage on city sidewalks, you might stick around a while.   
City leaders want to create an entertainment district, to draw more people downtown during weekends and events.
One part of the plan would be relaxing open container laws, to get people walking around more.

Rose Bridges/KC's Sandbar "I think it would benefit all the businesses downtown. Walk from one place to another, eat here, let's check this place out. They don't have to go anywhere else."
At times, portions of streets might be closed to make walking easier.
Bill Avery of Fokker's Sports Pub says he's not against the idea, but he has concerns about safety.

Bill Avery/Fokker's Sports Pub "We're on State Road Highway 98 out here, we have public parking lots, we have a lot of traffic. And we just need to make sure we have the kind of proactive law enforcement that we're going to need."   

Avery says downtown should be a center for dining and entertainment, but it needs to be done right.

Bill Avery/Fokker's "Maybe being able to walk around with a cocktail's going to make a difference. I don't know either way. I'm willing to try anything once."

The city manager says currently, some people come to festivals at Fort Walton Landing and never venture across the street to the business district.

Rose Bridges from KC's Sandbar says the city just needs to give them a reason.

Rose "Everybody goes to Destin because there's so many places that are right there, and you can walk. We need that in Fort Walton."

There will be a public meeting on January 22 to get everyone's input on the entertainment district plan.