City Council approves drafting alcohol ban in three city parks

Monday, December 20, 2010 | 10:40 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The City Council voted Monday night to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would ban alcohol in three of the city's public parks.

The Columbia Police Department proposed the ordinance, which would prohibit alcohol in Flat Branch Park, Village Square Park and Paquin Park.

“The parks will be more attractive for our citizens,” Police Chief Ken Burton said.

Police said they have had trouble with intoxicated people in the parks, citing homeless individuals as a main source of the problem, according to a previous Missourian article. But increased patrols and trespassing warnings have not proven to be effective, Police Capt. Dianne Bernhard said in a Parks and Recreation Commission Review meeting Dec. 9. 

“This ordinance will allow us to administer public drunkenness,” Burton said.

Currently, city law prohibits drinking on city streets and sidewalks and in parking garages. Burton noted at the council meeting that transporting and holding people for public drunkenness is costly.

The new ordinance would allow signs prohibiting alcohol to be posted at the three downtown parks. Police would also be allowed to handle alcohol violations in parks as they would handle violations of the open container law.

According to Columbia Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood, alcohol would only be allowed in the parks with a special-use permit issued by the department. Hood said exceptions to the ordinance could be made for certain community events and activities.

Individuals found in violation of this ordinance would be given a court summons and asked to leave the park.

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Bill Fisher December 21, 2010 | 3:49 a.m.

These are definitely 3 parks that would be more attractive to families if they ran intoxicated homeless out of them. Anyone who disagrees needs to watch how uncomfortable a woman with a couple children gets when approached by a homeless man begging for--practically demanding--spare change. And I wouldn't mind if Paquin Park was under 24/7 video surveillance.

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