Some businesses welcome St. Patrick's Day changes

Many businesses on River Street like the proposed changes.
Many businesses on River Street like the proposed changes.

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah city leaders have some last minute changes to think about. With little more than a month left before Saint Patrick's day hits the Coastal Empire, they have some decisions to make and tonight, they want public input.

Saint Patrick's Day on River Street last year was considered an off year. Kevin Barry's Katherine Howell is expecting a 2009 rebound.

"I think it will be fine. More people will show up this year than they did last year," Howell said.

However, a few issues are up in the air. Will there be gates at entrances on River Street, wristband sales or beer vendors in the squares along River Street? Howell hopes not.

"I think it's only fair to the bars down here all year long to be selling food and the drinks," Howell said. "They are not doing wristbands which are $10. Not doing the gating which kept people away. That was just a pain. It stopped everyone up at the entrances and kept people away."

"They are fairly significant changes, but what we are talking about is less regulation rather than more regulation," Bret Bell, City of Savannah spokesman, told WTOC.

Bell says these changes were in the works since last year, involving the Waterfront Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the police department along with city manager Michael Brown.

City council members criticized what they called last minute changes a few weeks ago, claiming they were news to them. See Saint Patrick's Day festival changes up in the air.

However, council members we spoke with say the fuming has died down and change may happen this year after all.

"This is a tough economic time and the idea is to push the business into the businesses. That's what's driving this here," Bell said.

"As long as everyone is staffed and everyone realizes it will happen, they will be ok," Howell said.

Howell says staying open is fine and like other businesses we spoke to, has no problem with the Saint Patrick's Day festival undergoing a facelift now rather than later.

"Not at all. I think it is a great thing. We're all for it," she said.

The public weighs in tonight at 7pm at the Savannah Civic Center. Savannah City Council has the final say on any changes.