Restricted alcohol use permitted at PACE Park
City Council approved a code of ordinance amendment that allows alcohol use at PACE Park for certain events.
Council voted 4-2 in favor of the amendment, which People Achieving Community Enhancement (PACE) requested earlier this year. The area in front of the amphitheater is now included with Finch Field and the Farmer's Market as city property where alcohol use is permitted under special circumstances. Councilwoman Pat Shelton was not at Monday's meeting due to an illness and did not cast a vote. Councilmen Raleigh York and Joel Pierce voted against the amendment.
“I think alcohol consumption in that area, because it is on city property and certainly is in downtown, and has a chance to either enhance or detract from our downtown image, needs to be done in a very responsible way,” Councilman Scott Styers said. “We limited it pretty severely and I think the rules we're considering putting in place still are very responsible and for that reason I can vote for this amendment.”
Under the conditions of the amendment, only nonprofits are eligible to receive a permit for alcohol use at the park and strict guidelines in the ordinance must be followed. Two off-duty police officers are required to be on-hand at the event, the location has to be confined, liability insurance must be provided to the city and underage drinking is not permitted. Alcohol use only is allowed in the grassy area in front of the amphitheater and the sidewalks and at the fenced off Farmer's Market, not in the parking lots.
PACE representatives requested the change in an effort to attract more people to outdoor events such as concerts at the park. Styers said he has attended similar events in other cities and never experienced a problem with alcohol use before.
In other news, alcohol use at PACE Park wasn't the only item on Monday night's agenda that resulted in a split council vote. Council voted 5-1 in favor of adding the east side of Fleer Avenue to its street maintenance list, making the road eligible for Powell Bill funds.
Council approved general repairs and drainage work to the first 185 feet of Fleer Avenue. City Manager Kelly Craver said the project is expected to cost $3,113. There are four houses on that section of Fleer Road, Craver said, and all the residents have been contacted regarding any drainage work.
Styers voted against the motion, citing a lack of Powell Bill money available to the city for paving existing roads.
“Philosophically, I do have some problems,” said Styers. “We have an ever-depleting Powell Bill fund and I have a real concern that within a few years, this city, like most cities, will be in dire straits. We've dipped into Powell Bill funds and $300,000 into our reserves for three years now. We can't pave what we have. We can't create new sidewalks or maintain the ones we have. I certainly sympathize with the residents in that area.”
“I think this 185 feet will immediately go into our Powell Bill system and it will be eligible for Powell Bill funds,” Pierce said. “These three citizens pay gas tax just like the rest of the citizens of Thomasville. Even though our Powell Bill funds are depleting, that does not mean these folks don't add to those funds already.”
Council also called for a public hearing on June 2 for this year's budget. The budget is available to the public at City Hall.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.