CRESTVIEW — Downtown businesses now have the option to serve alcohol outside during special events. City leaders on Monday voted 3-2 to approve the proposal, which allows open containers, on occasion, within the Main Street area.

Numerous residents spoke about the matter during the meeting. Here are some of their comments:

“Grape juice left by itself turns to vinegar,” Pastor Joel McGraw, of Crestview Independent Church, said. “Man must corrupt wine to make it what it is. It will corrupt society as well. Councilmen, the ordinance will corrupt downtown Crestview. Crestview will be sorry if they do this.”

“Guns don’t affect your judgment, but alcohol does. Selling alcohol is all about getting the almighty dollar,” Jim Vail, pastor of First Baptist Church of Baker, said. 

“Keep the alcohol behind closed doors on Main Street,” Crestview resident Willard Wilson said. “You are placed in those seats to protect and serve the citizens of this city in a positive way. Can any of you on council tell me one good thing that alcohol does for a person? … It’s all about the revenue and the dollar.” He then laid a dollar bill on the council dais.

“There are a lot of people that make their living with the almighty dollar,” Johnny C. Alexander, a Crestview businessman, said. “A lot of these people are church-going people. For the sake of the livelihood of these downtown business owners, council should pass this ordinance.”

“My wife and I decided to reinvest in downtown Crestview,” said Bill Toannon, who co-owns Casbah Coffee House. “I prefer to see revitalization downtown. Putting big-box stores on either end of Crestview will not help small businesses downtown.”

“We are looking to bring some events to downtown where alcohol is served,” Paul Lowrey, downtown business owner and president of the Main Street Association said.  Responsible business owners, responsible use, and responsible consumption. We are not looking to do this during family-oriented events like the Crestview Christmas Parade. You will be offering economic opportunity for downtown businesses.”

Councilman Doug Faircloth, who dissented, said many people contacted him about the ordinance.

“I voted against the ordinance the first time and haven’t seen anything to change my mind on this issue,” he said. “I don’t see where alcohol will be the saving grace of downtown.”

Councilman Shannon Hayes, who voted yes, said he asked a downtown business owner what happens downtown after 5 p.m. The response was an emphatic nothing. “I received a lot of opinions on this issue — not facts,” Hayes said. “There are a lot of protections in the ordinance.”

“You’ve elected five people to make a decision on this,” Councilman J.B. Whitten said. “Some will walk out happy, some won’t. I will continue to support this ordinance.”

Councilman Bill Cox offered no comments.

“Regardless of the outcome, I don’t want my great-grandchildren to say one day that my grandfather brought this ordinance to this city,” said Council President Blocker, who also dissented. “I feel the downtown needs to be a family oriented area.”


Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly named First Baptist Church of Baker's pastor.