Wedding receptions could have champagne toasts.
Family reunions could have beer, wine and other libations.
Hard beverages may join soft drinks at the events held at park pavilions, if members of the Goshen City Council pass an amendment recommended by members of the Goshen Park and Recreation Board at Monday’s meeting.
The members of the board voted unanimously to recommend an amendment to Ordinance 4294, which dictates rules and regulations for the parks within the city of Goshen. The proposed amendment would eliminate section 10 of the ordinance, which prohibits alcohol usage in parks, replacing it with a paragraph that restricts alcohol usage to park pavilions only, and only with compliance to a rental agreement and the Park’s Department usage guide.
Members of the board spent the discussion period of the meeting focusing on what it would mean if alcohol were allowed in park pavilions, and what restrictions they want to see within the rental agreement and usage guides, which fall under the board’s jurisdiction. The City Council controls only the ordinance; implementation of the amendment, including what pavilions would allow alcohol, what the rental agreement says and how fines are handled, falls to the Park Board.
“My concern with the amendment, if it passes City Council, is if we could designate what park pavilions can and can’t be used,” Park Board Vice President Maynard Hartsough said. “I would designate only pavilions with enclosures.”
Most of the Park Board members seemed to be in agreement with Hartsough, stating that they feel it could be changed later to allow for open-air pavilions if they see success in renting enclosed pavilions to the public.
Members of the public spoke in support of and against the recommendation.
“I have a real concern over alcohol in the parks,” Goshen resident and police officer Mark Huser said. “We have beautiful parks here... I don’t feel alcohol consumption fits.”
Huser said he was most confused about the wording of the recommendation, which uses a building’s “footprint” as the boundary for which people can drink in. Huser said he didn’t know if that means the surrounding outside sidewalks, patios or even parking lots.
“I don’t want to have my family down there with someone drunk hollering at us,” he said.
It was later decided that alcohol would only be allowed inside the pavilion enclosure, and not on any patios, sidewalks or other outdoor amenities.
Goshen resident Jayne Fought said she supports the ordinance amendment, and that even having it at outdoor pavilions shouldn’t be an issue.
“I know that people have a lot of fears about this, but I don’t want us to allow our fears to stop us from doing something,” Fought said. “Hopefully people will use the privilege responsibly.”
Mayor Allan Kauffman, who initially voiced the proposal to the board, said that he does understand where people are scared, and that he supports using only enclosed pavilions.
“I realize the fear of the unknown is great in many issues,” he said. “I don’t see the problem with starting conservatively and opening up. I would rather get part of this approved than none at all.”
The primary push behind this amendment is an increase in city revenue from new places, according to Hartsough. The pavilion rentals could bring in money for the Parks Department and for the city.
“If it’s bringing in money and it’s monitored correctly, I am willing to go along with that,” Hartsough said.
The amendment recommendation will go before members of the City Council at the first September meeting, held Sept. 4, according to Kauffman.
“We don’t want to push this through quickly,” Kauffman said. “I know the members of the council wouldn’t like that, and people want a chance to speak.”
Fidler’s Pond agreement approved
The members of the Park Board also approved an agreement with Goshen for the loan of $150,000 from the Electric Utility Sale Fund for the purchase of Fidler’s Pond, repaid over the next three years.
The money will be used to get a full grant from the state of Indiana, which is providing matching funds from the Bicentennial Nature Trust Fund for the purchase of the property.
The Park Board was also awarded a $150,000 grant from the Elkhart County Community Foundation, but that grant will come in installments. The Parks Department needed the full $150,000 up front to get the matching funds from the state for the purchase, and the loan from the city of Goshen was approved July 17.
“Hopefully we can finalize it within the next 90 days,” Parks Superintendent Sheri Howland said.
Howland said the purchase agreement puts closing on the purchase of the property around November. An advisory board, complete with members from the community, has been established, and the Parks Department is still waiting on notice from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for the conservation easement assessment, which will let the Parks Department employees know what activities can and cannot take place on the property.
• The board members approved new items added to surplus inventory, including a canoe transport cart that wasn’t used, a table saw with no workable motor, a popcorn machine with a bad heating element and 80 portable ice rink holders.
• The board members also approved an agreement with Dovetail Projects LLC to consult on design of a community center informational brochure. The agreement is in the amount of $5,000.
The members of the board voted unanimously to recommend an amendment to alcohol ordinance
Wedding receptions could have champagne toasts.
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