GREEN COVE SPRINGS – In a unanimous decision, the Green Cove Springs City Council voted in favor of drafting an ordinance to allow alcohol to be served in Spring Park during city-sponsored events. …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – In a unanimous decision, the Green Cove Springs City Council voted in favor of drafting an ordinance to allow alcohol to be served in Spring Park during city-sponsored events.
The issue was brought to the council by Sandra Royal, the organizer and director of the city co-sponsored CalaVida Arts Festival and wife of council member Van Royal. CalaVida hopes to serve beer and wine during a brief event at the new Spring Park Pool during this year’s festival prior to an invite-only dinner with entertainment to be hosted above the pool in the covered pavilion area.
“We wondered if it would be possible, and maybe have two wine tickets per dinner ticket,” Sandra Royal said, addressing city council at its Sept. 5 meeting.
According to Van Royal, the wine has been donated for the event, so there would be no drinks for sale and patrons would be limited to two drinks.
The current city code prohibits all alcoholic beverages within city parks, but, in light of recent changes to the policy at the Clay County Fairgrounds by the Clay County Board of County Commissioners, the city was quick to consider the policy change.
The new ordinance, which will be drafted by City Attorney Jim Arnold prior to the Oct. 3 council meeting, will follow the restrictive model set forth by the county at the fairgrounds, allowing the city to ease into the change.
Alcohol will only be allowed during city-run functions in a confined or gated area.
“You would definitely want to have it behind a gated area,” City Manager Danielle Judd said. “You would not want people to, in essence, walk with an open container onto the street or any other area of any city park.”
The council will retain the right to hear each request for alcohol distribution on demand, allowing for other festivals that the city sponsors, such as the Soul Food Festival, the opportunity to come before the council and present their case for alcohol service.
“What we are looking to do with the item before us tonight, is to designate zones in Spring Park for certain city-sponsored events,” Mayor Mitch Timberlake said. “Then if there are future events that take place, either in other parts of the park or at other parks in town, then that would come back to us as a separate item.”
After discussion among the members of the council, it was generally agreed that they would allow only beer and wine, no hard liquor, and would carry some form of liability insurance to protect the city from any blowback. Additionally, the city will only allow the alcohol to be served using a drink ticket system or in a complementary manner, not sold at the bar. The city will also require a police officer to be posted at any event serving alcohol to keep the peace and ensure that no underage patrons are being served.
Pam Lewis, absent from the meeting but participating via telephone, provided a list of rules she would like to see enforced should the ordinance be passed. She said she supported the change in favor of highlighting Spring Park and looking to the future when they may vote to allow alcohol at wedding receptions or other events in the park.
“This would increase the use of the pool area as a beautiful venue,” Lewis said. “I just feel like people should, of course, be responsible when they drink.”
Until council has voted on the proposed ordinance, nothing is set in stone. The hearing will continue on Oct. 3 when the council makes its final vote on the issue.