The University of Georgia is home to historic downtown Athens. Many know downtown Athens for the numerous restaurants and clothing boutiques. However, most will say downtown Athens is known for its nightlife, primarily because there are 80 bars located within a single mile of each other.
The number of bars located in downtown Athens is excessive. Nothing good can come from having that many establishments serving large amounts of alcohol to many young consumers. Therefore, Mayor Nancy Denson made the right decision by banning building anymore bars in Athens.
Issued last month, this one-year moratorium is meant to clean up downtown Athens. They hope limiting the building of more bars will decrease alcohol-related offenses involving UGA students and Athens Clarke-County citizens and protect the city from the effects that a large magnitude of the bars can have.
There has been a lot of controversy related to the downtown bar scene. In 2015, an allegedly racist themed drink from one of downtown Athens bars prompted protests against discrimination in Athens bars.
There is also the question as to if the local bars are to be blamed for the alcohol-related accidents and fatalities in Athens. The University of Georgia Police and Athens-Clarke County Police have been working to address the issue of alcohol poisoning.
“I think anywhere that you have an area that has a downtown life such as what you see here in Athens you are going to see an increase in alcohol overdose,” said Epifanio Rodriguez, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
These dangers are reason enough to realize the amount of bars in Athens has gotten out of control. No one single town, even a college town, possesses the need for that many drinking establishments.
The focus needs to be shifted away from the bars and centered more on local businesses and events. People look forward to annual festivals and events such as Athfest, the Twilight Criterium and the Human Rights Festival. While drinking may take place at those events, they center on the city, not around the bars.
The controversies surrounding downtown bars takes away focus from well-established local businesses and traditions that make Athens great. By continuing to build bars, Athens will gradually lose the old town charm it is known for. The memorandum banning new bars will help the Classic City return to its full potential.