(Full story update) Wellington Council takes no action on designating downtown public consumption area

first_imgThe proposed designated consumption area, which was turned down by the Wellington council, is shaded in blue. (Click on picture for larger view). by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow – The Wellington City Council turned down a proposal designating a public consumption area for downtown during the Kansas Wheat Festival. Instead, the council appears to be going back to the beer garden that was used in years past. The council called for a special meeting on Monday so that the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce can submit for a Cereal Malt Beverage license application to run a beer garden on W. 7th Street, popularly known as the old Antler’s Hotel parking lot. The council would then have to approve it. This came after an emotionally charged 60-minute discussion on whether or not to designate a two block radius of Harvey to Eighth Street and parts of 7th Street including the Antler’s Hotel parking area and food court (see map above). Had the proposal passed, people would be allowed to purchase an alcoholic beverage – whether it be a beer, a margarita, or straight vodka – and move freely within the confines of the area, provided they had a designated Wheat Festival cup.The hope was, among some Wheat Festival promoters, that people could take their drinks freely in and out of drinking/food businesses such as Barefoot Jerry’s and The Dore while listening to the outdoor street concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. The same would apply for the beer garden serving 3.2 beer. One of the misconceptions was that people would be taking alcohol to the carnival – in the Raymond Frye Complex parking lot. This is not true. No one can leave the designated area with alcohol nor bring in drinks. Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Annarose White said that people would be given a green wrist band before entering the area and it would be roped off. Those who do not have proper identification stating they were 21 years or older, would not have the band and therefore could not purchase alcohol. Also, if people were to walk around the area with alcohol, they could only do so with a designated cup that would be presented by the business owners or those serving alcohol at the beer garden. The reason this became an issue is because the State of Kansas just this month passed a Common Consumption Area law allowing local governmental entities more leeway in designated areas where people could consume alcohol. White said the main goal was to increase the enjoyment of those wishing to purchase drinks while listening to the concert at the same time. For example, a class reunion is being held at Barefoot Jerry’s. By opening up the consumption area, there would be more room for people to congregate both inside and outside. In the end, though, the resolution never was placed up for a vote, because no council member made the motion to act. Wellington Council member Vince Wetta may have surmised it best for the general feeling in the room on Tuesday: “I like beer. I like guns. I like family with kids. But I don’t like putting them together.” ••••••The debateThere were 81 people in attendance Tuesday including council members, media, and city staff. A large contingency was there from the Freewill Baptist Church. Reverend Zane Brooks was the first to speak. He worried that the potential for money gained from the increased sale of alcohol would be lost because people would stay away. He states: “We have many things at the Wheat Festival that are family friendly, whether it be lawn mower pushes, cow chip throwing, bed races that involve children. Why on earth would you add alcohol to the mix?… You have moved alcohol from the bars to a beer garden. Now you want to move it to the city streets. When will it end? I have never seen where alcohol has helped anybody.” Council member Jim Valentine was concerned about the safety of the people especially with the new Kansas open carry firearm law. “Alcohol and guns don’t mix, they just don’t,” Valentine said. He asked Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath how many extra officers would be needed to patrol the area. Heath said four. Valentine said the mere fact that there needs to be extra police force speaks volumes of the potential dangers. There was a large crowd at Tuesday’s meeting to debate the Consumption proposal.Wetta said he was concerned by the large scope of the area. He asked White why was it so large. White responded that they wanted to include the Dore near Harvey, the food court on 7th Street and reaching north to Barefoot Jerry’s and the concert stage. Audience member Brian Strange, who moved from Wichita, worried that Wellington was shooting itself in the foot by trying to emulate a big city. “There is a slippery slope which you try to chase a dollar,” he said. White said that Wheat Festival organizers would be diligent in helping with security. There would be barricades and student volunteers such as anti-drug groups like SCDAT, who would assist with the looking of licenses or passports. Council member Kip Etter was asked if it was a conflict of interest for him to vote since he was the owner of the Dore. He said he had done much research on the matter and said from a legal standpoint he could vote. He said he doesn’t make much money on Wheat Festival alcohol sales. He also said he would vote no if it comes to a vote. Council member Jan Korte said she would not vote for it and said the proposal encourages underaged drinking. White said the organization is not promoting underaged drinking. Both Valentine and Wetta asked City Attorney Shawn DeJarnett if the city would have increased liability if this were to pass. DeJarnett said he didn’t think so. Usually the onus of the lawsuit falls on the party involved in the misdeed and since the city is a third party, they probably wouldn’t be sued. “But you can be sued for anything these days,” DeJarnett said. Wetta then complemented White and asked for a round of applause. Church of Christ Reverend Mike Nelson then spoke in his support for White. This brought Mayor Hansel to tears in which she understands what it is like to be vilified. When it became apparent that the consumption area was a no go, Wetta asked if there was a way to get something passed so the Chamber could promote a fun Wheat Festival. It appeared the beer garden of years past was a solution. However, that became a complicated discussion on how to produce a beer garden in relation to the new state law. The debate evolved into what the necessary steps were needed to make the beer garden a reality. After 20 minutes, the council decided to hold a work session on Monday and then hold a special meeting for which White’s CMB license could be approved. Follow us on Facebook.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (26) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +2 Vote up Vote down guest · 164 weeks ago got my popcorn ready, waiting for comments Report Reply 0 replies · active 164 weeks ago +17 Vote up Vote down SilenceD · 164 weeks ago After they moved the beer garden to a larger area last year, does anyone know the increase in gun shots fired within the drinking area compared to previous years? 200%? 10000%? I mean, they even gave away a gun in that same area last year. How many did that guy take out? Report Reply 0 replies · active 164 weeks ago +16 Vote up Vote down notlla · 164 weeks ago He doesn’t make much money on wheat festival alcohol sales ,,, Give me a brake. Report Reply 1 reply · active 164 weeks ago +11 Vote up Vote down Mic Jones · 164 weeks ago Seems like most council members think Open Carry people are heavy drinkers and can not control there actions. The Open Carry laws are very clear on this. I’d be more worried about someone who has been drinking and starts a fight with a law abiding person that is carrying a concealed gun. Funny, if you are of legal age, you can carry a 30-06 down Main Street but a person can’t carry a beer in a cup. Welcome to the Bible Belt, where God and guns mix but God and booze don’t. Report Reply 0 replies · active 164 weeks ago +2 Vote up Vote down Prodigy · 164 weeks ago Moving the beer garden back to antlers lot is going backwards. Last year was by far the best set up. Why can’t they do that again this year? The sound stage is going to be almost 100 yards away, not ideal. But seriously, heritage park inside the fenced in area was great, the best location yet. Sounds like the “church people” are drinking the wrong kind of koolaid. SMH Report Reply 0 replies · active 164 weeks ago -4 Vote up Vote down Thirsty · 164 weeks ago What makes the most sense to me would be to have cups showing the origin of the purchase. Beer Garden gets a beer garden cup, Jerry’s has a Jerry’s cup and The Dore has their own cup. Anybody who is drinking alcohol not in a designated cup should be easy to spot. Report Reply 0 replies · active 164 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down wellington resident · 164 weeks ago Right, everything at the wheat festival is overpriced, and yes they make a good bit on beer sales, nice try Report Reply 0 replies · active 164 weeks ago +10 Vote up Vote down wellington resident · 164 weeks ago They want to drink , go to the bar or drink at home. Its suppose to a family event, not a drunk fest like the years past. Report Reply 1 reply · active 163 weeks ago +8 Vote up Vote down SilenceD · 164 weeks ago Chasing the demonic dollar is what Zane is worried about? How did you build that new church? Tax free money. How do you provide for your family? Tax free money. How much did you pay for the drone footage of your “pilgrimage” to your new church? Chasing that demonic dollar. But I understand. It all comes down to morals. Some people think it’s immoral to drink at all. Some people think it’s immoral to drink too much. Some people think it’s not immoral at all to drink yourself into a stupor. I’m so glad the council is here to decide who’s morals matter. But I’m also so disgusted that some people think so little of our kids that they can’t make the right decision if presented with bad decisions. Again, the whole “for the kids” BS is being played for the wrong reasons. Maybe the council should have asked the chief of police about calls involving firearm infractions. How many of those involved alcohol. What are his biggest concerns about the new proposal? How can those be mitigated? The people are tired of protectionist, over-reaching, small time government officials. Report Reply 4 replies · active 164 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down wellington resident · 164 weeks ago The laws need to be changed then, churches should have to pay taxes on their money like the rest of us do. And some of the mega church pastors that live in mansions is stupid. Report Reply 2 replies · active 164 weeks ago 12Next » Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. 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