Council may review alcohol use policy at PACE Park

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 10:22 AM

A local organization is asking City Council to review its policy concerning alcohol consumption at the downtown amphitheater.
PACE (People Achieving Community Enhancement) has submitted a request to City Council that rules regarding where people can drink alcohol at PACE Park expand to include the area in front of the amphitheater. Under current guidelines, people attending outdoor events at the park only can drink alcohol in the fenced-in area where the Farmer's Market is held.
“When we originally set the rules for PACE park, we wanted to be able to have alcohol available to functions and possibly concerts, movies and stuff like that,” councilman Neal Grimes said. “We had concerns over other stuff going on over there and we made the rules pretty stringent to prevent that. Their request is that we look at it.”
Alcohol guidelines for the park include obtaining a ABC permit, getting permission from the city and hiring two off-duty police officers to serve as security for the event. Events where alcohol is served also are reserved for nonprofits and are bound by the state-required drinking age of 21.
PACE would like to see people attending an outdoor event at the amphitheater to be able to drink wine or beer on a lawnchair in front of the state rather than walking back and forth to the fence-in section at the Farmer's Market.
“It's just kind of awkward when you're an event out there where you have a band set up in the amphitheater and people sitting down in the park,” said Ben Watford, a PACE board member. “The only way to sit down and have a glass of wine is to walk up and sit in that cage. All we're asking is for them to extend the area into the park part. Drink a glass of wine while you're sitting in the park with a glass of wine or a beer.”
Both Grimes and Watford agree that a potential expansion of the guidelines could increase interest in events being held at the amphitheater.
“It's a reasonable request,” Grimes said. “We'll look to see if we can make it more flexible to see if we can draw more entertainment. Maybe it would allow us to have more things going on at the amphitheater.”
Watford said a similar setup in Lexington has been met with great success and he feels the same can happen in Thomasville.
“I think it will be good for the downtown area,” said Watford. “It's not going to be a big ol drunkfest out there. It draws attention to downtown. It does in Lexington.”
Any new guidleines, however, would restrict recreational alcohol consumption in PACE park.
“If you're not utilizing the area, you can't just go up there walking around drinking,” Grimes said. “it has to be during a use of the amphitheater area.”
Grimes said the current policy was sent to a personnel finance committee to review the rules up for consideration.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or