The Brunswick Downtown Development Authority is planning to add more expertise to its board.

The board voted at Friday’s meeting to invite as many as five new members with different backgrounds, such as developers, lawyers, bankers and others with a vested interest in downtown Brunswick, to serve as ex-officio members.

The new members would be allowed to introduce agenda items and participate in meeting discussions, but they would not be allowed to vote on anything.

Mathew Hill, director of the DDA, said the bylaws don’t need modification to add new non- voting members.

City Commissioner Julie Martin said the mayor and other commissioners need to know the board is adding more scope and diversity.

“With the vision of making historic downtown Brunswick an interesting, charming and thriving town, diversity is paramount,” said Wendy Lutes, chair of the DDA board in a letter that will be sent to potential ex-officio board members.

The new members “will expand DDA’s knowledge base to effectively promote the economic well being and development of downtown Brunswick,” Lutes said.

It was reported at the meeting that the business community was not upset when they were told not to give away a complimentary glass of wine or other alcoholic beverages on First Fridays, because it saves them money.

Merchants were cautioned not to give away free spirits, but it was not because of a complaint. Hill said a local business owner asked if it was legal to offer a glass of wine to customers getting their hair cut and was told it was against the law. That set off the series of events leading to the recommendation not to serve alcoholic beverages to customers.

Hill said he is looking at how the city of Savannah hosts events where merchants legally give away free glasses of wine. He is also checking with the Georgia Municipal Association to determine if there are ways for the business community to continue the practice of giving away glasses of wine.

People are still allowed to walk downtown on First Fridays with open containers of alcohol, as long as the beverage was purchased.

“We’re working to find a solution,” Hill said.

The board also began planning for the annual Christmas parade on Dec. 7. One goal is to get more people to Mary Ross Park and the city waterfront.

Courtney Prince, the board’s newest member, suggested showing movies at Mary Ross Park as a way to attract millennials and college students downtown.

“Outdoor activities are something everyone can get behind,” she said. “We need something to attract all ages.”

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