Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2008

New park prompts review of city alcohol policy

Construction continues at the De Soto Riverfest Park on 79th Street in the West Bottoms. With the opening four months away, the De Soto City Council is considering whether the city's ban on alcohol on city property needed to be revised.

Construction continues at the De Soto Riverfest Park on 79th Street in the West Bottoms. With the opening four months away, the De Soto City Council is considering whether the city's ban on alcohol on city property needed to be revised.

May 29, 2008, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: May 30, 2008, 5:13 p.m.

With an eye to the success of events at De Soto Riverfest Park, the De Soto City Council will review the city's policy concerning the use of alcoholic beverages on city property.

The park is scheduled to open Oct. 3 and 4 with a blues festival and barbecue contest sponsored by the De Soto Chamber of Commerce.

The council banned alcoholic beverages on all city property in 2002 after then-City Administrator Gerald Cooper called its attention to abuse directed at city staff and damage to the Community Center during private parties.

At its meeting May 21, city council members questioned whether the city's alcohol ban should be lifted at the new park to give such events a greater chance of success.

The discussion started with a question of whether the alcohol ban should be lifted for the blues and barbecue event.

Those attending blues festivals and barbecue contests will expect beer, Councilman Ted Morse said. The ban would have to be lifted for the blues and barbecue event to be a success, he said.

But council members Tim Maniez and Mitra Templin were concerned because the city council refused a request from the De Soto Cinco de Mayo Committee in 2003 to serve beer at the event when it was at the Community Center. Some could see prejudice in that earlier decision should the council allow alcohol at the chamber event, they said.

Mayor Dave Anderson said the question was a matter of where not who. He would have no problem with the serving of alcoholic beverages at outdoor events, he said.

If that was a case, the city should look at changing existing policy, Templin said.

"I don't want an organization coming up here saying they were denied based on who they are," she said. "You either allow it, or you don't. I don't want to be held in a position where my perceived bias or non-bias comes into play."

It was agreed city staff would review the alcohol policies of other cities, including Parkville, Mo., which has a riverfront park.

The De Soto Chamber of Commerce is expecting the combined blues and barbecue contest it is sponsoring to open De Soto Riverfest Park to be a success, enough so that Chamber executive director Sara Ritter asked for the city's help in planning for it.

Specifically, Ritter asked the De Soto City Council for $5,000 to hire an event planner to review the site and planned festival to make sure all the bases were covered.

The event will combine the chamber's successful blues festival with the barbecue contest the chamber took over from Darrell Zimmerman.

Ritter said the city and organizations planning subsequent events would benefit from the event planner's suggestions.

Council members approved the request, which will be paid for from money collect from the city's transient guest tax. But Maniez proposed the chamber repay the city should if it made a windfall from the event.

In other business, the council approved the city street department's purchase of a asphalt steam-drum roller and paver. The two pieces of equipment, which were on the city's capital improvement list, will cost $80,000.

The equipment will allow the city to do more routine maintenance in house, street department supervisor Ron Creason said.

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