Not quite two years ago, I wrote about my concerns with the gutting of limitations on the number of alcohol fueled events in Sims Park. If you don’t recall it, you can read it here.
You probably haven’t heard about it, because the July 5th city council agenda isn’t posted on the city’s website, but one of the items is consideration of an alcoholic beverage special event permit to allow a local civic club to sell beer and wine at ALL of the remaining city events in the “Summer Sunset Concert Series”. The next of these events is July 9th.
In my opinion, this proposal creates a new and very dangerous expansion of booze sales in the park. NEVER BEFORE has a city event featured alcohol sales. What is being proposed is to allow a group to profit from the sale of alcoholic beverages at an event completely paid for with taxpayer dollars.
This weekend’s Main Street Blast also features alcohol sales. A key difference is that the event organizer for Main Street Blast, New Port Richey Main Street, Inc. is footing the bill for the event, including the music and other entertainment.
If a civic group wants to do a “Wine and Cheese” event like the Trinity Rotary did a couple of months back, I’m all for it and I’ll even buy a ticket to attend.
There are plenty of local watering holes downtown where those thirsting for a beer can drop in for a drink. There is absolutely no reason for the city to go into direct competition with them by offering alcoholic beverages at city events in the park. I’ve heard complaints from bar and restaurant owners about alcohol sales in the park, as recently as last weekend.
On the other hand, I suppose we could approach Great Bay Distributors to see if they can arrange to replace the water in the splash pad with Budweiser.
Enough is enough. The permit request on Tuesday’s agenda smells of stale beer. It is a horribly bad idea and it is being considered without anything approaching proper public notice and discussion for something this significant. I’m going to vote against it and I will encourage my colleagues to do the same.
I’ll remind any of my council colleagues who may see this that Florida’s Sunshine law provides that they should NOT respond or otherwise discuss this issue with me prior to Tuesday night’s meeting.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor