A big crowd was anticipated for last night’s City Council reading of the Alive @ 5 Open Container Permit which is scheduled for the same evening as the Grand Opening of the Splash Pad at City Park. Previously, the permit had been unanimously approved but after public concerns, the council decided to re-discuss the issue.
Despite the level of concern, less than 20 people showed up and a handful of them stood at the podium to voice their opinion, either for or against the permit.
The opposition urged the City Council to deny the Open Container Permit, claiming that due to the history of alcohol abuse at City Park AND the fact that the Splash Pad event was meant to celebrate children, they felt “we don’t need alcohol at that event, it’s families and children.”
Chief of Police, Eric Murphy also opposed the permit for this night alone, and he made a request of City Council. “Here’s what I will ask. You as City Council Mayor have asked the police department to make a more proactive and aggressive approach to our public-intox problem or alcohol problem…. What I’m asking you is in return, to help us and make a more aggressive decision on this and not support alcohol at the Splash Pad Grand Opening.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Schatza asked, “Do you think it will cause issues?”
To which Murphy responded, “Not at all. We’ve never had issues at Alive at 5 and I’ve attended almost all of them. We’ve never had one issue. My whole thing is completely because it’s a little kid’s event.”
On the other hand, supporters emphasized that the events were unrelated and that the Splash Pad ribbon cutting would be completed before the Alive @ 5 concert began. Rowena Bland, who is footing the liquor license and a planner of the Alive @ 5 chamber event, described the nature of the event and assured the public that they would NOT begin serving beer until 6:30 pm, well after the ribbon cutting.
Tara Carr spoke in favor of the permit:
“This is a victory, we’re taking back our park, things are changing… I for one am just really excited to see all the enthusiasm and excitement, and the changes that are occurring at our city park and in our city.” -Tara Carr
After the public had a chance to speak, the council members had their own discussion to which, councilman Tim Hancock said, “What is the role of the government? And if there’s really no safety concerns and what we’re concerned more about is image… when the rubber meets the road, are we going to grant a permit or not, I feel like we should step out of the way and let people use the park.”
Ultimately, the final vote came to 6-1 in favor of the Permit and Alive @ 5 will be allowed to serve beer during their concert on May 24th.
The City Council Meeting can be watched in its entirety via the City of Riverton website – “Meetings & Minutes”.