Mayor Kehde Casts Tie-breaking Yes Vote to Allow Alcohol at ‘Yappy Hour’
The Sedalia City Council was split on whether to allow alcohol at an upcoming event at Liberty Park, but Mayor John Kehde cast the tie-breaking yes vote Monday night.
The Sedalia Lions Club requested a waiver of the city ordinance prohibiting alcohol in City parks for the April 27 event, referred to as “Yappy Hour,” a fund-raiser designed to pay for a second dog park in Sedalia. The first one is located at Clover Dell Park.
Sedalia Parks and Recreation is officially organizing the event, and made the request to City Council, but the Lions Club has agreed to provide a booth at Liberty Park and serve alcohol during the event, which features activities for dog owners.
Parks & Rec Director Amy Epple added that two off-duty police will provide security at Yappy Hour, a new trend in bigger cities. An area will be roped off for those 21 and older with ID who wish to imbibe between 4 and 7 p.m. Armbands will be provided to those participating, it was noted. Alcohol will be dispensed in a special-colored plastic cup. There will also be food trucks on site. Dirt Road Addiction is scheduled to perform as well. The event is free to attend, according to Sedalia Parks & Rec's Facebook page.
Voting yes on the waiver were Council members Tollie Roe, Megan Page, Jeff Leeman and Andrew Dawson. Voting no were Bob Cross, Jo Lynn Turley, Bonita Nash and Don Meier, making the vote 4-4. Sedalia Mayor John Kehde promptly broke the tie with a yes vote.
A liquor license application was listed on the agenda requested by Ann Adams, dba Sedalia Lions Club, for $37.50, referred to as a “picnic license.”
Councilman Cross explained his no vote after the session:
“Parks are for families and kids to go have fun, and I just believe we are setting a precedent, because now, we can't turn anyone down,” he said, adding that there is a huge liability issue at stake. “If someone was to get hurt, the City's responsible. I'm totally against this. I don't believe that alcohol should be in the parks.”
Page said she was struggling with the issue, said she wished she had more time to process the request. “I can see both sides,” she said.
Nash said, “I'm struggling as well. Even with a designated area (for alcohol consumption) there will be children around. Also, I'm a grandma.”
Dawson said the parks should be open to everyone, adding that he contacted the event director for Columbia Parks & Rec, and was told there were no issues in the four years they've been hosting a Yappy Hour event.
Leeman said that parks are family-oriented places. He noted that “you can't control what happens after they leave,” he said of the participants, adding that the City of Sedalia will ultimately have to accept liability if anything untowards happens at the event.
Turley, in her last appearance on the Sedalia Council, said that “We must be fair across the board. We shouldn't be lifting the rules to suit ourselves.”
Cross was totally against allowing alcohol in City parks. “If we allow this, how can we so no to anyone else?” he asked the other Council members.
Don Meier, who is retiring from the Council, agreed with Cross, and added that it sets a bad precedent.
Epple said the location for the second dog park would be located behind the Sedalia Animal Shelter on South New York, across from Centennial Park.
Council held a reception for incoming and outgoing members, then convened once again for an emergency closed-door session.