City manager wants to improve safety in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Several dozen residents and business owners got together Wednesday night to discuss ways to improve the quality of nightlife in St. Augustine.

The strategic action plan was introduced by City Manager John Regan to improve safety and cleanliness in the city during the late night hours.

“We want to make sure that we maintain our unique identity so that when people come here they have a positive, safe experience,” explained Regan.

The proposal includes more crews to clean the streets, additional street lighting and sidewalks, specified pick-up areas for ride-share services and increasing the police presence to make people feel safe and quickly respond to complaints. The last component calls for updating the city’s alcohol ordinance to issue extended hours permits.  

“We’re seeing ever since we went to the 2 a.m. later hours, we’ve had more and more late night bar activities, and we don’t want the city to get too much of a reputation and a brand of a late night nightclub scene like Miami Beach, Key West or New Orleans,” said Regan.

Jim Wilson owns The Pub on Anastasia. He, like others attending Wednesday night's meeting, paid a permit to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

Wilson said he didn't like the idea of the city establishing an earlier cutoff time for serving alcohol -- 11 p.m. It means he would likely have to buy a new permit.

"I think everyone is going to have to get the license anyway," Wilson said.

Regan said the meeting was part of continued discussions about what's best for the city. He said any proposed ordinance changes wouldn't happen until at least next year.

"The public had some very constructive points we need to be thinking through and reflecting back to the community," Regan said.

Some, like Tom Dolan, the owner of Meehan's Irish Pub, believe the city already has what it needs to make the nightlife a safe experience.

"I think the enforcement of existing laws is going to be an excellent solution to solving those issues," Dolan said.


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