Traverse City Leaders Brainstorm Ways to Improve Drinking Culture

Traverse City is known for its libations. Whether it’s an Old Mission Peninsula wine, a craft beer, or a local spirit, you don’t need to look far to get a drink. There are over a hundred of places to serve you in town. About 118 to be exact.

“118 locations where people can purchase or consume liquor is a lot for our population,” said City Clerk Benjamin Marentette. “It’s really about striking a balance.”

While spirits are a powerful driver in the local economy, TC leaders think the abundant alcohol may be leading to problems.Drinking Culture Web Image3

Police Chief Jeff O’Brien says almost all the department’s calls involve alcohol in one way or another.

“Trespassing, disorderly, assault and battery, domestic violence, all of the major calls we go on are generally alcohol infused,” said Chief O’Brien.

The Chief wants to go a step further to protect the public. Marentette, the Downtown Development Authority and the Traverse City Police Department are brainstorming ways to improve drinking culture around town.

They’re re-assessing the number of liquor licenses in the area and creating plans to limit or prevent binge drinking. The involved parties will meet Monday night to talk with the City Commission to get their support before anything moves ahead.

“We’re going to hire a project manager with $100,000 in grant and talk about how we can create that culture,” said Marentette.

For years, businesses on Union Street have noticed an uptick in rowdy behavior around nearby bars.

“We use to have mounds of people congregating on the sidewalk, smoking,” said Millie & Pepper Creperie Owner Julie Hearne. “We had a couple people come in that were, you know, a little ‘lit’ which is fine, but I just don’t want that.”

Higher Art Gallery Owner Shanny Brooke says that’s partially because of what sometimes comes with that behavior.

“Damage to properties, things we would run into on a Saturday morning when we were opening our shops,” said Brooke.

These business owners hope the city can rein it in. Saint Patrick’s Day is next week and they’re expecting some craziness.

“It’s kind of like the kickoff to the season. The drinking season,” said Brooke.

TCPD, the Downtown Development Authority and the city clerk will present their ideas to the city commission on Monday night.