The president of the University of Iowa is an "enthusiastic" supporter of a bid to limit the number of bars in downtown Iowa City.
The city’s planning and zoning commission is considering a proposal which would forbid new bars from opening within five-hundred feet of a similar business. It would essentially forbid new bars from the downtown area, which borders the U-of-I campus.
University of Iowa president Sally Mason has assembled a "Partnership for Alcohol Safety" to address the binge drinking that’s prevalent among students, and she supports the restriction on new bars.
"I’m actually enthusiastic about that. I think that’s, again, another creative idea that the folks in Iowa City have come up with for helping us deal with a very vexing situation," Mason says. "We’ve got a lot of bars in a small radius downtown and it’s not necessarily creating a good environment for our students, for visitors and for people who live in Iowa City."
Forty-six businesses in downtown Iowa City have a liquor license and operate a bar. That’s 16 more than were operating in downtown Iowa City a decade ago. The zoning change being considered would apply to businesses which have a liquor license, primarily serve food and alcohol, and which stay open past midnight.
Mason, who took over as U-of-I president in August of 2007, says there appears to be a "proliferation" of bars in downtown Iowa City.
"I love the restaurant scene in Iowa City. I happen to think the restaurant scene there is one of the best that I’ve ever experienced certainly in the Midwest and in a college town, so it’s something that I think we want to preserve," Mason says. "We want people to feel safe and we want people to feel like they can go downtown on a weekend and enjoy themselves and enjoy the great things that we have to offer in terms of retail shopping but also in terms of fine dining."
Mason made her comments Monday afternoon during an interview with Radio Iowa.