After waiting to allow time for the new mayor and new Havre City Council member Janet Trethewey to become familiar with the city and its issues, a joint committee of the Parks and Recreation and Ordinance committees decided Monday evening to move forward with changing an ordinance to allow alcohol in certain city parks with a permit. Parks and Recreation Director Chris Inman said she's pleased with the change. "It was such a mess (before)," she said, when Council members had to vote to give exceptions to the ordinance on a per-case basis. "I really like this because it's black and white." The current ordinance forbids alcohol use in city parks. The new ordinance would have "except by special use permit" added to it to allow alcohol use with a permit in Pepin, Deaconess and Optimist parks. Alcohol also will be allowed in the 6th Avenue Softball Complex and the men's slowpitch softball field, both of which are leased from the city. Mayor Tim Solomon, who took office in January, suggested that the police chief sign permits to make sure that he knows how many extra officers he might need on shift. A built-in time frame to make sure that the city has plenty of time to plan would also be helpful, he said. According to the draft permit approved by the c ommi t t e e i n December, people wanting to have alcohol in parks must apply at the main of f ice in City Hall for the permit 14 days before the planned event. Th e p e rmi t ho lde r s woul d also have a copy of the permit on their person at all times, and the police would know who the contact person is for each group. Solomon also suggested having each person sign a liability waiver and to have flexibility in the permit to accommodate any changes in insurance rates in the future. Or d i n a n c e Commi t t e e Chairperson Andrew Brekke said that the city lawyers felt that having one person be responsible would be strong enough. Requi r ing each group, regardless of size, to have a caterer for their event is another idea that Solomon shared. The cost of caterers is high, Brekke said, and would discourage many smaller groups from using the parks. That is not the intent of the change, he said, adding that if anything, the point of the change is to encourage use of the parks. If six guys get together to play horseshoes and want to havealcohol, "they wouldn't necessarily need a caterer," committee member Allen "Woody" Woodwick said. Brekke said the committee didn't want to put too many restrictions in the permit, but still cover the pertinent points. "Because you put too many restrictions on, and people don't abide," he said. The number of people in the group, the time constraints and who is dispensing the alcohol is enough information on his end of things, Police Chief Jerry Nystrom said. "That's all I really need to know to prepare for this," he said. Permit regulations Both the ordinance change and approving a draft permit was voted on by the committee in December, with the ordinance change scheduled for its first reading Monday, April 5, and the permit to be brought before council in the form of a resolution for discussion and action April 19. The permit includes the following stipulations: • Events with 24 people or fewer: no permit fee. • Events with 25 to 49 people: $35 fee. • Events with 50 to 99 people: $50 fee, proof of liability insurance. • Events with 100 or more people: $75 fee, proof of liability insurance and the event must be catered. Regardless of group size, parties must follow all city and state laws regarding alcohol consumption, including age limits; keep alcohol use in a designated area; clean up the area of use; consume only beer or wine in non-glass containers; and wrap up the event by 10 p.m. In addition to the alcohol portion of the permit, an a la carte type of permit will have to be filled out by anyone wishing to use a city park for an event or gathering. There is no fee for regular events not using alcohol. The permit streamlines the current system and has places to mark what amenities are requested, such as sporting equipment, electricity, picnic tables, electricity and use of the gazebo in Pepin Park.
Alcohol in parks moving forward
Published: Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
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