City officials opt to make no change to alcohol-in-parks policy
by Laura Haley
contributing writer
Feb 14, 2013 | 1492 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although the sale of alcohol is now allowed at some city parks, events held at Old City Park will remain alcohol free for the foreseeable future. The Moab City Council on Tuesday discussed the possibility of allowing alcohol at events at Old City Park, but city officials said the proposal is problematic because of law enforcement and jurisdictional issues.

Jenn Oestreich of the Moab Pride Festival asked the city council to consider changing the policy to allow events that occur at Old City Park, such as the Moab Pride Festival, to sell or serve alcohol.

According to Moab City Manager Donna Metzler, Old City Park was specifically excluded from the city’s park alcohol policy largely because the park lies outside of the city limits.

“It’s not currently within the city’s law enforcement jurisdiction,” Metzler said. “It’s also not within the city’s business license jurisdiction.”

Currently, groups wishing to serve alcohol at events held at Swanny City Park or the Center Street ball fields must go through a long process that includes obtaining state liquor licenses, park-use licenses and special event licenses. Metzler said the city would have to come up with a new permit for events taking place at the park in order to allow city staff to have the same level of oversight they currently have at the other venues.

Metzler pointed out that law enforcement would be one of the major hurdles in allowing alcohol at the park.

“Grand County considers it private property,” Metzler said. “Unless the private property owner calls with an issue, Grand County isn’t going to patrol that property to make sure that [the city’s] policies are met. Unless we ask them to.”

Metzler said that due to the city’s history of coordinating with the Grand County Sheriff Department on other events, she did not foresee a problem with arranging patrols, but she said that it would just be one more thing the council would need to plan for in allowing permits for alcohol at events at Old City Park.

Metzler said that she felt it was too soon to make changes to the city’s policy regarding allowing alcohol in the parks. That policy was approved by the city council in August of last year. Many of the city council members agreed.

“I feel it’s premature for us to open this up when we’re only in our first year of this whole arena,” council member Kirstin Peterson said. Peterson added that the issue should potentially be considered in the future, once the city has dealt with more events that have served alcohol at the allowed venues. To date, only two events have taken advantage of the new policy – the Moab Folk Festival at the Center Street ball fields and Canyonlands Community Recycling’s Feast of India fundraiser at the Grand Center.

“We’re providing for [allowing alcohol at some venues], and if that’s an important part of someone’s event, I think that they could look at the places where we do allow that and choose to relocate,” Peterson said.

Council member Gregg Stucki agreed. “It makes sense that people plan accordingly instead of us accommodating every request,” he said.

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