Booze on St. Pete’s Beach Drive could soon be a thing

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St. Pete could soon be piggybacking on an idea approved last month in Tampa.

Booze on the streets, that is.

St. Pete’s idea is still in its conception, but it would likely apply to specialty areas like the popular Beach Drive and the up and coming Grand Central District that cuts through the southern boundary of Historic Kenwood. The idea, proposed by city council member Jim Kennedy, is to schlep booze to raise money for the arts.

He said artists from the city’s ever-growing creative community could design special street-friendly cups imbibers could carry along approved corridors and fill at their favorite watering holes along the way. Proceeds from selling the cups – the only receptacle adults could legally use to consume beer, wine or mixed drinks on the streets – would go toward the financially struggling arts endowment.

“I would think people would be willing to pay $1 for a cup they can take on the street,” Kennedy told the Tampa Bay Times.

The details are shaky at best. Where the approved zones would be is still up in the air and any other restrictions would still have to be hashed out. The council is set to debate the issue at its meeting tomorrow.

Mayor Rick Kriseman, according to the Times, “welcomes a conversation” on the idea.

The similar measure passed in Tampa last month allows adults of legal drinking age to carry alcoholic beverages along most of the city’s Riverwalk. The measure passed 4-2 in early November. But not without concerns.

Some individuals, groups and city council members raised concerns the measure could lead to public drunkenness, drunk driving and potential issues with the city’s large homeless population. To appease fears, the city came up with several caveats. Like the proposal in St. Pete, drinkers would have to use a special cup and could only purchase drinks from a list of eight city-authorized vendors along Riverwalk including the Marriot, Maestro’s at the Straz Center and Ulele Restaurant just outside of downtown.

Alcoholic beverage purchases are also limited to two per person in the special cups. Riverwalkers can’t bring their own drinks. The measure on that side of the bay earned support from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has championed the Riverwalk throughout his first term.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.