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Will alcohol be allowed at Park Theatre?
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A Park Theatre rental agreement could be under consideration by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this month. A big question remains: Should alcohol be allowed?
The contract between the city and prospective renters was given a quick review during a Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. However, legal consideration will be needed and changes made prior to full board review.
A proposed agreement was submitted to the committee by Park Theatre coordinator Sara Morgan.
Under “facility usage” the agreement states, “Usage of the theater is subject to review by the city of McMinnville Parks and Recreation. The city of McMinnville Parks and Recreation retains the right to deny usage of the facility and shall generally evaluate applications based on the criteria set forth in the Parks and Recreation rental policy.”
Morgan says that statement is to ensure inappropriate events are not held there.
“For facility usage, we just want to really make sure we aren’t going to bring in an event that’s going to stir up too much commotion or that’s going to be bad for the city,” she said.
City attorney Tim Pirtle warned against discrimination.
“You cannot subjectively determine who can and who cannot have use of the facility,” said Pirtle. “If it’s available to the public at large, it’s available to the public at large. So, we will have to generate a policy that’s non-discriminatory in nature because there are very explicit First Amendment issues involved in denying people access to the use of a public facility.”
Under “booking” the agreement states, “All renters must be 18 or older; if alcohol is being served 21 or over.”
Pirtle says serving alcohol will need more consideration than stating the state’s age require-ment on the consumption of it.
“The board will need to formulate a policy in regard to alcohol consumption on the premises, whether it’s a private function or a public function and make sure that policy falls within the city’s cur-rent policy,” said Pirtle.
City administrator Bill Brock says officials will first need to decide if the city should provide the alcohol.
 “The board is going to have to make a decision: Is the city of McMinnville going to sell alcohol at the Park Theatre? You will have to make that decision. If you are, then you have to jump through the hoops to get there,” said Brock.
The facility is under the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and its director Scott McCord reminded the committee the Civic Center has a policy that allows alcohol to be served at private events.
Pirtle says that policy may not extend to Park Theatre because it could be within 300 feet of a church, a distance restriction that was upheld last year when officials voted to leave the minimum dis-tance intact between churches, schools and places that sell beer.
“Unlike the Civic Center, the Park Theatre might well be within the prohibited radius of churches for a Beer Permit Ordinance,” he said. “We are going to need to do an analysis of all the ap-plicable laws and regulations that bare on alcohol consumption on the premises, vending alcohol, etc. That will be a policy discussion and a formulation that we will need to go through.”
 The proposed agreement requires “copyrights” that states “the renter/ presenter must have acquired all copyright and permissions to present the performance for which the theater is being rent-ed.”
McCord questioned, “Do we need to have those in there?”
“No,” said Pirtle. “It’s really a bad idea. Copyright should stay between the artist and the per-former and the city should stay totally out of that. The city does not want to get in the middle of whether a presenter and a copyrighted artist are at odds with each other.”
Pirtle adds the requirement of “special event insurance coverage” should be removed from the agreement because the city doesn’t need it and the renter will be paying for something that’s un-necessary.
“We do not need the special events insurance coverage that costs the end user $300 to $500,” said Pirtle. “The city is immune from liability by statute. To the extent that any immunity is removed, we are statutorily capped at the maximum of $300,000 even if someone is killed. Additionally, we are insured through TML (Tennessee Municipal League) for that $300,000. We don’t need that insurance and it’s an unnecessary expense on the end user.”
Because the agreement needs revision, Parks and Recreation Committee members Ben Newman, chairman, Steve Harvey and Jimmy Bonner agreed to send it to the full board, allowing legal time to revise it before that time.
The next regular session of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is March 24.