TREASURE ISLAND — It could be said Treasure Island is putting a local twist on Paramount Network’s “Bar Rescue” TV show, as city commissioners passed an ordinance extending alcoholic beverage sales from 2 to 3 a.m.
Several tavern and restaurant owners recently contacted city officials and asked them to save their businesses and equalize the playing field.
They explained it’s a matter of safety on local roads. As the clock nears 2 a.m., those who want to drink alcoholic beverages just a bit longer get into their vehicles and drive to another location off the island. They party until 3 a.m., then take an Uber home.
Fred Forsley, owner of Sea Dog Brewing, echoed the sentiment of several bar owners who wrote to the city explaining that numerous other surrounding municipalities all have alcohol sales for bars and restaurants to 3 a.m.
“We ask the commission to amend the ordinance to be on the same table. Business owners put everything they own into opening and operating their business; it is urgent that they should not be at a disadvantage to our neighboring communities,” they said.
During the regular City Commission meeting June 18, Commissioner Saleen Partridge said residents she has spoken with understand the concern and need for a change in hours. Most did not realize neighboring communities allowed people to consume alcoholic beverages later than Treasure Island and the safety problem that creates.
“I have some constituents who are business owners who have reached out and are in support, and I also spoke to a few residents who initially had concerns. After discussing and hearing information expressed at the previous meeting, such as people not having to drive off the island to go somewhere else in that hour, it kind of put some of their minds at ease about where we were going,” Partridge said.
“I agree with Commissioner (Deborah) Toth that it will keep people from driving elsewhere in that hour’s time,” Partridge said, adding their last Uber ride of the night hopefully will be from a bar in Treasure Island.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Toth said. “I think it also helps with the choice of where they are going to start. If you are going to start at one place at least that gives our business an even playing field, with them starting and staying as late as they want.”
Partridge noted most of the residents were unaware that bars in other municipalities were open until 3 a.m. “and we are just coming into alignment with surrounding areas, so that people are not leaving our island in that hour from 2 to 3.”
“That wasn’t common knowledge and really helped some of the residents realize why we were moving in that direction,” she said. “It’s about keeping residents safe in the driving time between 2 and 3 versus other things.”
Partridge said she appreciated that City Manager Garry Brumback researched information provided by Police Chief Armand Boudreau, adding that made quite a difference to ease residents’ concerns.
Several tavern owners, along with the local chamber of commerce and residents, wrote city officials asking the city to help local business be successful.
Resident Arthur Czyszczon wrote city officials saying that succeeding in the bar and restaurant business is already difficult with all its challenges.
“The bars and restaurants in Treasure Island should be given every opportunity to succeed. … Please consider just in the past few years all the restaurants, bars and retail businesses that have closed or moved in Treasure Island. These businesses include Shrimpy’s, Beach Snoballs, The Cigar Bar, Wahoo’s, Blackwater Grill, Captain Kosmaskos, the Golden Phoenix and others.”
He asked commissioners to support local businesses by amending hours of sale for bars and restaurants to 3 am.
Commissioners passed the ordinance on first reading with a final vote scheduled for July 16.
Both the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce and the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce support the change.
New dog-walking rule
Commissioners also passed an ordinance that will allow dogs to roam off their leash within the city’s proposed dog park to be located in Roselli Park on Isle of Capri. The city’s ordinance requiring dogs to be walked on a leash had to be amended to exclude the fenced dog park area.
Partridge said she spoke with some of the residents who previously had questions about the park and “heard no other concerns at this point.”
City Manager Garry Brumback reiterated there is a leash requirement up to the dog park gate. In addition, the park will have a double-gating system. When a person takes their dog inside the dog park gate, there is a place to take the leash off, so the dog does not have an opportunity to run. Then the dog goes into the second gate to enter into the dog park, where it can run.
“It’s a standard dog park design; it’s a two gate process,” the city manager noted.
The dog park is being financed entirely through donations and sales of dedicated and memorial pavers and benches.
The amended leash law will have a final hearing and vote July 16.