Council to consider ordinance change for PACE Park

May. 16, 2014 @ 02:41 PM

City Council is considering an ordinance amendment that would broaden the use of alcohol at PACE Park.
Council members at Monday's monthly meeting are expected to vote on an ordinance amendment that would allow alcohol use on the grassy area in front of the amphitheater at PACE Park. City ordinance 54-2 currently states that alcohol is not allowed at any city property except for Finch Field during Hi-Toms games and the Farmer's Market, which is located directly beside the park. The proposed amendment, which was requested by People Achieving Community Enhancement (PACE), would allow the exception at the park.
“Alcohol use would be permitted in front of the stage,” City Manager Kelly Craver said. “If council approves it.”
Councilman Scott Styers favors the amendment, which includes several requirements before a one-day ALE permit is issued. Nonprofits only are eligible for the permit. Two police officers must be present during the event, the area has to be barricaded in some way, liability insurance is required and photo identifications have to be checked to be sure there is no underage drinking.
“It's pretty restrictive,” Styers said. “If it's handled responsibly I feel like that's a change we could make. I'm willing to support it with the full understanding that if it's abused or gets out of hand we can always go back and change it.”
PACE representatives requested the amendment in an effort to attract more people to the park and Thomasville. Styers said cities throughout the area hold similar events every year and rarely have any problems with alcohol use.
“The truth of the matter is there are many communities around us that have events, particularly musical events, where alcohol is served and it seems to work well,” said Styers. “I've been to many of them and have never seen a problem. If we want to bring folks to Thomasville and have them spend money here, that's one of the things that may add to the experience. PACE Park is a wonderful facility and maybe we need to use it more than we do. That's why I support it. The way we've done it is very responsible.”
PACE Board member Ben Watford last month said the current ordinance makes it awkward for people attending an outdoor event at the park who want to have a glass of wine or a beer then have to walk back and forth from the Farmer’s Market to the stage.
Four votes are needed to pass the amendment, and Styers expects some council members will oppose it.
“I think it’s fair to say it will not pass unanimously,” Styers said. “That has more to do with the individual beliefs, and in some cases religious beliefs, of individual council people who don't feel like they can support anything that appears to be endorsing the use of alcohol. I think we'll probably have a couple of folks who will vote against it for that reason and I fully respect their right to do that. I don't know that it's anything against PACE or summer concerts there, they just don't believe in alcohol under any circumstances and their individual beliefs require them to not vote for something that appears to be supporting that.”

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.