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Alcohol at Park Theater leads to legal wrangling
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There’s legal wrangling over allowing alcohol to be served at the Park Theater. The change would allow alcohol to be served at any private event held at any city-owned park or facility.
Under consideration is a measure to amend the Parks and Recreation Alcoholic Beverage Policy to include Park Theater. The policy currently states “Alcoholic beverages may be provided at certain Parks and Recreation facilities, i.e. McMinnville Civic Center, Pepper Branch Park, The Lot downtown, and the City Mall at the Farmers Market for private functions only.”
Rather than including Park Theater to the list, Alderman Ben Newman, who is chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, suggested changing “i.e.” to “e.g.” which is an abbreviation for “example given.” Newman, who is an attorney, says i.e. limits the use of alcoholic beverages to only those places specifically listed, but e.g. allows alcoholic beverages in all Parks and Recreation facilities, even if they are not specifically listed in the policy.
“The i.e. is what makes this only inclusive of those things that are listed,” said Newman. “I don’t know why it was limited to just Pepper Branch and not Riverfront Park, but that’s what the board chose to do at that time. I think changing ‘e’ to a ‘g’ would be easiest.”
Alderman Steve Harvey stated, “I’m no legal expert but if you think changing i.e. to e.g. is preferable to adding Park Theater to that list, I will make that motion.”
The policy only allows alcoholic beverages to be served at private functions after the renter meets all the other qualifications set down in the policy, including the use of a licensed ABC bartending company and not having the alcohol for sale. The Parks and Recreation Department has the right to reject any request that does not meet policy.
According to city administrator Bill Brock, the 300-foot distance restriction between establish-ments that sell alcohol and churches, daycares and schools does not apply to private events in which beer is not being sold.
“If you are selling alcohol, then that’s a whole different ball game,” said Brock. “If you sell it, you have to have a license. When you go to get the license, all the rules kick in and the 300-foot re-striction applies. Private events that provide alcohol free to guests do not have to have a license.”
Last month officials discussed the possibility of the city providing alcohol at the Park Theater and selling it during events. However, that effort could trigger the distance restriction between Park Theater and the closest church, school or daycare.
Newman says the change under consideration pertains to private parties and would not allow individuals to enter a city-owned park and consume alcohol.
“If we pass this, it wouldn’t mean people could go down to the park and pop one open,” said Newman. “They would have to apply and have to be approved.
The measure passed 2-1 on Tuesday night. Newman and Harvey voted in favor, while Alder-man Jimmy Bonner voted against.
“I’m not going to vote for anything pertaining to the consumption of alcohol,” Bonner said of his decision.
The legal wrangling did not end there.
City attorney Tim Pirtle said the decision must go before the full board for its approval.
“It would be part of a policy and it would need approval from the board just like the previous policy at the Park Theater did,” Pirtle said.
Newman asked, “Even though this doesn’t change any fee structure? I thought that was the point of the Park Theater situation.”
Pirtle asked for time to consider the situation.
“That’s a valid point but I’m not sure I can answer it off the top of my head,” said Pirtle. “The policy is in place. There is no question about that. This is simply further defining the areas within the city in the policy. Let me look at that between now and the next regular meeting and give you a defini-tive answer.”
The next regular meeting of the full board is April 28.