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At quiet meeting, alcohol permit process is streamlined

 

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After a flurry of public comment against alcohol being allowed in city parks, the Parks and Recreation Committee meeting was quiet Monday night with no residents in attendance as committee members and several members of City Council worked to finalize a permit process. The permit for alcohol use in the parks now allowed by an ordinance change must be applied for by all wishing to consume alcohol in either Deaconess, Pepin or Optimist parks, as well as the Sixth Avenue Softball Complex and the men's slowpitch softball field for non-lease related activities. All groups, regardless of size, must show proof of insurance at the front window of City Hall when applying. In previous discussions, it was decided that smaller groups would not have to show proof of insurance to get an alcohol permits. But Mayor Tim Solomon said that he wasn't comfortable with the level of liability that placed on the city. A $50 fee must be paid for the permit, and a personal interview with the chief of police also must occur so that any concerns he has can be addressed. Permits must be applied for one week in advance of the day of the event. Stipulations also include that the permit holder have the permit on his person at all times during the event and show it to law enforcement officers if requested; the area be roped off by the permit holder; no glass containers be used; only beer and wine be consumed; and the event end by 10 p.m. Pam Hillery brought up a concern raised by residents that they be informed when groups will be consuming alcohol in the parks, suggesting that the permit holder be required to notify residents living in nearby proximity to the park. That would be impossible to make sure that all the nearby residents were informed, Solomon said, and committee members agreed that it would be unrealistic to require such a thing. Groups wishing to use alcohol in parks, as well as groups simply wishing to hold gatherings in the parks, must also fill out a general use form to select what section of what park they wish to use. On that form, people will check what amenities they request, such as picnic tables, electricity and the use of the gazebo. It will also be clear on the form that electricity use costs $10 and gazebo use is $20. A $100 damages and cleaning deposit will also be charged at the time the forms are filled out. "That way it encourages people to be more responsible" and clean up after themselves, said Chris Inman, Parks and Recreation Department director, about the committee's suggestion. People must also sign waivers, releasing the city from any injuries or problems occurring while using its parks. The permits and waivers will be brought before City Council at their Monday meeting for approval, and events that are scheduled before the approval will be grandfathered in that no general-use permit or deposit will be required.

 
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