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Council to Hear Alcohol Issue Tuesday

A night of tunes in the park has spawned a bit of controversy in Van Alstyne.

Music in the Park, sponsored by the Van Alstyne Chamber of Commerce, was a free performance from a local artist at Dorothy Fielder Park on May 15 that is to be the start of a monthly summer music series. Other communities host these types of events and those at the Chamber decided it was time Van Alstyne did the same.

Garnering local support, the event offered up free music, food and drink. It was that last item, however, that rubbed some the wrong way. Though there were non-alcoholic beverage sold, there were a number of alcoholic beverages given away for free and is these that have raised the ire of some citizens.

Mayor Teddie Ann Salmon was one of those who questioned the legality of consuming alcohol on city property, particularly at a city park. VAPD Chief Tim Barnes pulled the ordinance pertaining to consuming alcohol on city property (Ordinance 320) and discovered that it is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages “on any public street, sidewalk, alley, public parking lot, private parking lot of any shopping center or of any retail or commercial business or businesses or at any place where an athletic event or contest is being conducted within the corporate limits of the the City of Van Alstyne.”

In other words, it is illegal to consume an alcoholic beverage at just about any place in public aside from the park.

Undaunted, Salmon is supporting a full ban of alcohol on any city property and will be submitting an ordinance request on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda.

“I just feel like that is an inappropriate place for alcohol. Our parks are shared with the scouts, our youth and the schools,” said Salmon. “Plus, the City does not need that liability.”

Wording on the proposed ordinance change was still being crafted by city attorney Julie Fort but there may be special language regarding a one-time special use permit for which organizers of an event can apply. This would be applicable for one-off events, such as an Oktoberfest-style happening that takes place in other cities.

The Chamber, which put together the summer music series, issued a statement that supports the special events ordinance. The release read in part: “The Van Alstyne Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is thrilled to announce a proposal for a Special Events Ordinance. With the dedication and determination to bring more people, businesses and prosperity to our lovely city, the Chamber Board and Chamber members will give a presentation to Van Alstyne’s Mayor, City Council and citizens explaining how this proposed ordinance has the potential to play a significant role in the promotion of Van Alstyne. From city wide garage sales to fundraisers, block parties to parades, banquets and weddings, concerts and cultural events, the Special Event Ordinance will accommodate those who have a desire to hold celebrations and host events in an effort to propel Van Alstyne forward.”

Both sides will present their case to Council at the Tuesday night meeting. The public is, as always, invited to the meeting. Tuesday night’s meeting will be the first held at the repaired Community Center since a winter storm forced its closure in December. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.