"There's a lot of people using the park for drinking," said Craghead, the outgoing resident association president. "They tend to get a little bit inebriated, and they tend to bother the residents here."
A proposal to ban alcohol in this and two other downtown parks would close a loophole in city law for these areas and would try to decrease public drunkenness among the city's homeless population.
Citizen complaints led to Columbia Police Department Officer Tamera Adams proposing in a memo she wrote in early July that an ordinance be written.
In her memo, Adams, a three-year veteran of patrolling the downtown area, said the second biggest complaint she hears involves homeless people drinking or passed out
She said she noticed people were getting around the city's open container law by drinking in the parks.
City law prohibits open alcohol containers on city streets, sidewalks and parking garages. However, drinking is not prohibited in a city park, as long as the person is not "under the influence of intoxicating liquor."
In a 2006 document, Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Hood said the language of this ordinance is difficult to define but generally police only arrest people if they are intoxicated.
Whether or not someone is intoxicated is determined by a combination of clues including the person's behavior or blood alcohol content.
Adams said she enforces this ordinance and another law that bans sleeping in a park, but she said that hasn't solved the problem. Police spokeswoman Jill Wieneke said this proposal would be a preventative measure.
"It's 10 times easier — from a law enforcement standpoint — to prevent the problem in these parks, instead of people going to the park, getting drunk and then arresting them," she said.
Business owners near Flat Branch Park formed one of the groups that complained to the city.
Dawn Hessler manages a Phillips 66 gas station next to the park. She said she often finds empty bottles and makeshift campsites in the small woods behind the station.
"It's almost to the point where it's scary to go down to the park," she said, speaking from personal experience.
This proposal looks like a double standard to Steve Jacobs, a volunteer at St. Francis House. He said he feels the city turns a blind eye when college students drink.
If the city wants to get serious about solving this problem, they should help fund substance abuse programs and regulate cheap drinks with high alcohol content, Jacobs said.
"Addicts are going to find places to go and drink, no matter what the legal prohibitions are," Jacobs said.
The city council is expected to vote on the issue in about two months, according to Sgt. Chris Kelly with the Columbia Police Department.