Council modifies alcohol policy
The De Soto City Council approved an ordinance last Thursday relaxing its strict alcohol ban on city property.
The measure would allow sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages with the issuance of a temporary-use permit for a "public event" at "outdoor park facilities."
In a report to the council, De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle found De Soto blanket prohibition of the use and sale of alcohol on all city properties was "unmatched" by other area cities.
Riverfest Park's first phase was conceived and designed for events, which as the De Soto Chamber of Commerce's Blues and Barbecue Festival that will open the park Oct. 11 and 12. Those events stand a much greater chance of success should beer sales be allowed at Riverfest Park, he said.
Guilfoyle said the ordinance City Council Patrick Reavey wrote was "as modest and as reasonable" way as possible to reintroduce alcoholic beverage sales and use on city property.
Councilman Ted Morse, who opposed funding the park now being constructed on 79th Street in the West Bottoms, said he agreed the ban would have to be lifted if the chamber's blues festival and barbecue contest were to be a success.
With general agreement on that score, the ordinance was approved. However, council members agreed more work needed to be done, such as requiring those obtaining a permit to sell alcohol to contract security approved by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.
Mayor Dave Anderson suggested the city also should consider placing a tax on the sales of alcoholic beverages to help pay for the maintenance of the new park.
"There will always be a need to maintain and improve the park," he said. "I just don't want us to forget it."
The council agreed to have the De Soto Parks and Recreation Commission and city parks department staff review the issues for recommendations.
The council awarded a contract to mill and repave Ottawa Street, which will provide primary access to the Riverfest Park, from 82nd Streets to where the road starts its westward turn to become 79th Street north of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks to AIC of Lawrence for $124,000.
City engineer Mike Brungardt noted that bid exceeded the $100,000 the city had available for the project, but it included $29,750 for the improvement of the old Sunflower railroad crossing.
Brungardt said he hadn't received a commitment from Sunflower Redevelopment Inc. Executive Director Kise Randall to pay the planned improvements, which would replace the current railroad tie crossing with a concrete one.
It was assumed Sunflower Redevelopment would ask the line's two current customers, Huhtamaki Americas Inc. and Rehrig Pacific Company to pay for the improvements and he had been in conversations with Huhtamaki officials, Brungardt said. However, he said legal complications involving the line were delaying Sunflower Redevelopment's response.
The report frustrated Mayor Dave Anderson, who said conversations with Sunflower Redevelopment tended to involve lawyers. The city was only asking for $30,000 of improvements to a railroad line Sunflower Redevelopment wanted and now had the responsibility to safely maintain, he said.