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Ohio island tries to shake “anything goes” image

Associated Press

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PUT-IN-BAY, OHIO: This summer’s public urination citations in the Ohio island village of Put-in-Bay were down significantly from past years as business owners, village officials and residents work to shake the negatives of being a party mecca.

There were 33 public urination citations were issued this summer, down from 67 in 2006, The (Toledo) Blade reported.

The misdemeanor offense carries an $80 fine and $85 in court costs. The island village on Lake Erie changed its law in 2000 to remove the more serious charge of public indecency.

The newspaper reports that Put-in-Bay’s police blotter still fills with public urination and disorderly conduct incidents in the summers, and monthly ambulance runs rise from 10 in the off-season to 90 in July.

But community leaders say such incidents involve a fraction of the tens of thousands who visit Put-in-Bay each year.

“You have tons and tons of people who are drinking. They are unfamiliar with the town,” village councilman Jeff Koehler told the newspaper. “Realistically, you deal with what it is. It is a resort town and people are out to have fun.”

Boaters used to stand on the long concrete docks drinking beer while 20 years ago sleeping in DeRivera Park was a regular occurrence. Both practices now are rare.

“I think we have made some fantastic changes as a community,” said Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce president Ty Winchester. “And I think some of that is forgotten.”

Village officials have struggled to keep up with a boom in the number of visitors to the South Bass Island, whose biggest catalyst may have been the launch of the Jet Express ferry service in 1989.

Put-in-Bay began its ascent as a resort town in the early 19th century, when settlers traveled there to grow wheat and livestock, plant grape vineyards, or build docks. Now the Jet Express sells between 8,000 and 9,000 round-trip tickets a day, and about 12,000 a day during its biggest weekend, Christmas in July.

The Park Hotel, the island’s largest hotel 20 years ago, is now one of its smallest. The interim has seen the addition of a host of new resorts, bars and restaurants and expansions to existing accommodations.

Ohio Division of Liquor Control has nearly three dozen active liquor permits on file for South Bass Island.


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