Two local groups are pushing to extend the 1 a.m. bar closing time in Tompkins County.
One of these groups, the Cornell Democrats, began its push this semester. Group members are proposing to extend the closing times to 2 a.m. Tompkins County is one of five counties of 58 in the state with a 1 a.m. bar closing.
Cornell senior Adam Gay, president of the group, said people need to start discussing a change.
“We think this is a responsible and fair option for bars to stay open later,” Gay said.
Gay said the group has good reasons to extend closing times. Alcohol is usually distributed more safely in a bar setting, and bartenders are required to take a training course so they know when to stop serving inebriated customers.
Extending hours would cut down on the amount of loud house parties, Gay said. He said it is easier for under-aged people to be served at house parties than at bars, where the drinking age is more strictly enforced. Gay claims the city of Ithaca would gain an extra $100,000 to $200,000 in tax revenue if closing times are extended.
And it’s not just college students who care. Some locals are also supporting the project, including David Gelinas, Ithaca City Council Member of the Fourth Ward.
“I’d like to do some more research … but the anecdotal evidence suggests to me that it will probably be a good policy to pursue,” he said.
Tompkins County Sheriff Peter Meskill said he sees no benefit.
“Any economic benefit would be completely erased by even one drunk driving disaster,” he said.
The college’s club Frisbee team joined the grassroots effort of the proposal to extend bar hours. Senior captain Andrew Rose said former captain Matt Pace ’06 sent teammates an e-mail encouraging them to take interest in the debate.
“We want to draw attention to the fact that this is an important issue for students, whether you’re 21 or 18,” Rose said. “Even though you can’t drink for a few years doesn’t mean things can’t change by then.”