by A.C. Hall
Before Hawaiian Falls could seek an alcohol permit, their officials asked for a change to an old city rule that doesn’t allow alcohol in city parks. City Manager Linda Ryan spoke about this at last week’s council meeting, saying it was something Hawaiian Falls wanted included when negotiations for the park were going on.
“We questioned it at the time, but what they wanted is that they do rent out their event center for parties and functions and this would allow them to be able to have liquor on the premises,” Ryan said.
City Attorney Warren Spencer spoke next, explaining that the change will only effect the Hawaiian Falls area, and won’t make it to where alcohol is allowed in any other areas or parts of city parks.
Several council members raised concerns about the idea. Up to this point, Hawaiian Falls had been presented as a faith based, family friendly facility, and Economic Development Director Jim Ryan assured council that’s still the case.
“They have assured us that this is not for the park,” Jim Ryan said. “They are a faith based organization that would not have alcohol in their park.”
He then described examples of why Hawaiian Falls wants the ability to serve alcohol, such as Lockheed holding an event at the Hawaiian Falls event center.
“It would not be for the park. That was never their intent or desire,” Jim Ryan said. “It is only for outside people coming in to rent their center for an evening.”
Council member Elzie Clements wanted further assurances, asking what the exact restrictions were on alcohol consumption in the park if council approved this action. His question raised a few further concerns as the actual proposed change to the rule wording states that those consuming alcohol have to be renting the event space at Hawaiian Falls, but doesn’t specify where they can consume the alcohol.
“If someone came in and rented the whole park, could they serve alcohol then?” Clements asked.
According to Spencer, the decision on where the alcohol could be consumed will still be regulated by State law, but beyond that it would be up to Hawaiian Falls to decide where the alcohol can be consumed.
Council member Steve Ott agreed with this interpretation, saying that if those renting the event center also rented out the entire park, it would fall on Hawaiian Falls to decide where alcohol can be consumed and wouldn’t be within the city’s control, although he doubts Hawaiian Falls would want alcohol consumed out in the park.
Jim Ryan once again attempted to ease the concerns of council members by assuring them Hawaiian Falls won’t allow alcohol consumption outside the event center.
“They have said that there will not be alcohol out into the park area under any circumstances,” Jim Ryan said.
Council made a motion to pass the ordinance amendment that would remove their existing restrictions against alcohol consumption in the Hawaiian Falls area. That motion passed 4 to 1 with council member Gene Hatcher voting against. This change does not grant Hawaiian Falls their alcohol license, but does free them up to move forward with their application to the State.
DOG PARK RELOCATION SITE CHOSEN
One sacrifice made in the Hawaiian Falls deal was the dog park near the animal shelter. That dog park was disassembled as the land is now being utilized by Hawaiian Falls. Parks and Recreation Director Rich Tharp addressed council on this matter, stating that the Parks and Rec board was recommending the as of yet under-utilized Las Vegas Trail park as the new home for the dog park. This park is located behind the bingo hall at the intersection of Cherry Lane and White Settlement Road.
Tharp indicated that there is sufficient land there for the construction of a small parking area, and that the materials from the old dog park were kept and will be reused at the new location.
Council member Danny Anderson questioned the idea, first asking if the land was considered in or out of the flood zone since it’s near the creek or if it was usable for commercial purposes. He was informed that if something was built there, it would have to meet elevation criteria, but that it was in fact buildable land.
“My problem is putting a dog park right there on prime commercial property,” Anderson said.
Anderson was reminded that the property was already designated as a city park, but he indicated that the city could undo that if they so desired. He suggested Central Park as a better place for the dog park relocation, pinpointing the area near the amphitheater as a possible new home. Anderson said this would utilize the $3 million overhaul of the park, and give all the home owners in the area a place to take their dogs.
Clements also voiced his support of the idea, saying that a parking lot already exists at Central Park. He spoke about the savings this would bring to the city since they’ll have to build a new parking lot if they choose the Las Vegas Trail park location.
Tharp responded to the idea, saying the area of Central Park that Anderson was referring to is slated to become practice fields for soccer and football teams. He said there wasn’t enough money in the park overhaul to do those fields yet, but it was still in the plan to do them at some point in the future.
A motion was made to accept the original recommendation of Las Vegas Trail park for the relocation of the dog park. That motion passed 3 to 2, with Anderson and Clements voting against.
Finance Director Phil Bray introduced the audit firm of George, Morgan and Sneed, who presented their annual audit report of the City. Bray spoke highly of the firm, who in turn spoke highly of the city staff. The audit results weren’t covered in detail, but a representative from the firm said it was a clean audit and that the process of auditing the city went smoothly. Council unanimously approved the year 39 Community Development Block Grant, which will see 1200 feet of sewer improvements done on Ozona Avenue and Collett Drive. The total cost of the project is $179,000, with the city responsible for paying $67,000 of that amount. This money is already in the budget. A public hearing was held on this item, but none in attendance chose to speak.
At the end of their meeting, council held a work session to discuss changes to political sign regulations. This would effect rules for placing signs at polling locations such as the White Settlement library. Ott mentioned that he hates the “sea of signs” that show up during voting periods at the library. Most on the council agreed with him, with the consensus being there should be a limitation on the number of signs each candidate is allowed to place at the polling location. City staff will work on this item and bring it back to council for consideration at a future date.