An ordinance up for a first reading during the Farmington City Council meeting Monday has the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce asking for a meeting with city leaders.
On the agenda for the meeting was a draft ordinance repealing a section of the municipal code relating to the prohibiting of drinking in public places. The draft ordinance states “it shall be unlawful for any person to consume intoxicating liquor, wine, beer or non-intoxicating been in the streets, alley, parks or any other public place in this city, except when a permit for a picnic license or caterer’s license has been issued by the city.”
The draft ordinance goes on to state the consumption of such items in Long Park “shall not be permitted at any time and the City shall not issue permits for a picnic license or caterer’s license that would allow for the consumption of intoxicating liquor, wine, beer or non-intoxicating beer in Long Park.”
The ordinance states the council desires to amend the code upon the recommendation of Mayor Larry Forsythe.
Chamber Co-Director Laura Raymer, during the public participation portion of the meeting, asked the council to consider a meeting regarding the ordinance.
Ward I Councilman John Robinson, sitting in as mayor pro tem in the absence of Forsythe and Ward II Councilman John Crouch – who was elected to that role by current council – invited Raymer to speak after she submitted a card to the council.
Raymer noted the long relationship the chamber has held with the city for more than 75 years.
“We appreciate the many successful projects and partnerships we have shared and look to many more in the future,” she said.
She told the council her reason for speaking before the council was in response to the bill on the agenda.
“The proposed change to the existing amendment would prohibit the issuance of any type of catering or picnic license within Long Park,” she said. “With its passage, this amendment will impact the chamber directly by prohibiting the inclusion of the beer garden in the location it has held for several years.”
Raymer went on to say the success of Country Days – including the beer garden – impacts the available programs, services and events the chamber is able to provide the region.
“As this amendment stands to affect such a large group of people,” she said, “the chamber respectfully requests a meeting next week between our organization, City Administrator Greg Beavers and Mayor Forsythe to discuss the ordinance further.”
Ward IV Councilman Tom Joyce asked what made Long Park different than the other parks. Beavers said, in conversations with Forsythe, the mayor’s view is for the park – and the Country Days event – to be viewed as a family event.
“(Forsythe) is opposed to the sales of beer within the park,” Beavers said. “He’s not opposed to the chamber selling beer … they could find another property to sell it at.”
Following the first reading, Joyce asked for the possibility of members of the council to participate in the meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.
Raymer noted the beer garden is fenced off, with security hired by the chamber checking IDs and placing wristbands on those entering. No one is allowed to exit the area with drinks.
“They make sure nothing enters and nothing leaves the area,” she said. “We try to very hard to make sure it is a very clean environment.”
She added the chamber works with Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker and his staff during the weekend long event.
“Mayor Forsythe prefers to not have alcohol sales in Long Park during an event of that nature, for a few reasons,” Beavers said. “One, is he wants to preserve Long Park (and Country Days) as a family event. I think to a certain extent, he doesn’t want the city associated with the beer sales.
“He wanted to introduce a bill that would prohibit the sale of alcohol in Long Park. If council approves it, the chamber of commerce will have to make other arrangements as to where they will operate their beer garden.
“As agreed tonight, council would like to meet with the chamber and discuss those options and kind of work through that.”
Beavers noted the timing of these discussions would allow the chamber to make other arrangements before next year’s event – should the matter be approved by council.
Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or email@example.com