Wendell discusses parking, closures written into park alcohol policy

mhankerson@newsobserver.comMarch 28, 2014 

— Commissioners discussed Wendell’s “old-fashioned” park alcohol policy, asking town staff to review the policy as it relates to parking concerns and a provision that closes the park to the public when there are events with alcohol at the community center.

Commissioner Ginna Gray asked to review the policy mainly because she said she was concerned about the rule that closes the park while events with alcohol go on at the community center.

“I don’t see why, if someone is having a wedding, someone can’t be playing tennis,” Gray said. “I just feel like we’re a little old-fashioned in our way of thinking.”

Wendell’s current alcohol policy for the community center says that any event with alcohol requires that the whole center be rented and that there can be no activities scheduled in the park.

The requirement is intended to avoid conflicts with younger residents happening upon an event with alcohol and for safety reasons associated with that. The town’s current policy requires that anyone using the center and serving alcohol carry a $1 million of liability insurance.

Most events with alcohol are scheduled for the evening, giving other activities the rest of the day to use the park and community center.

Staff told the board there are between 15 and 20 events with alcohol scheduled each year, which means on those days, normal park activities have to be scheduled around the event.

According to staff, most events with alcohol happen on the weekends, but the Wendell Chamber of Commerce and Ducks Unlimited banquets are the only events with alcohol scheduled during the week.

Gray said she thought it was too much for the park to be inaccessible for that many days in the year.

Parking is a problem

Commissioner Jon Lutz agreed with Gray, saying if there were restrictions on simultaneous park and community center use, he wouldn’t want it to be because of alcohol.

Lutz and Gray both said parking was a bigger concern when hosting events at the community center.

A brief summary prepared by town staff noted that parking during events with alcohol also posed a problem for park-goers.

The summary said most events with alcohol had 400-500 guests. When factoring in residents who may want to use the park, there isn’t enough parking for everyone who may be in the space.

Some people may end up parking in a gravel lot, the summary said, and some may even end up at the tennis courts.

Since the community center has to be rented, town staff said they try to make sure people with events will have parking. By closing the park at the same time as events with alcohol, the town can save some parking for event-goers.

Board members asked staff to reviw the policy for its next meeting.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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