Sedalia Council Votes 7-1 Against Adopting Alcohol Policy for Sedalia Parks
A request by the Sedalia Senior Center for a waiver for a fund-raising event to allow alcohol at the Heckart Community Center was denied by the Sedalia City Council Monday night during its regular meeting.
The Sedalia Parks & Rec Board previously okayed the waiver request at its most recent meeting. The matter then went before full Council at its first meeting in March, which was Monday night.
The policy adoption proposal allowing alcohol in City parks was the only item listed on the agenda under Public Works.
First Ward Councilman Tom Oldham asked Parks & Rec Executive Director Amy Epple if there was a limit on how many permits could be issued per day, per park. Epple replied there was not.
“The policy that we put in place is a pretty strict policy,” Epple told Oldham, adding that every entity requesting alcohol would have to put money in place to be able to provide alcohol at their event.
“Is there a minimum number of attendees required to issue a permit?” Oldham asked.
“No there is not,” replied Epple.
Oldham said he feels there is just something about our parks being able to be maintained as family-friendly and family oriented, with no smoking allowed.
Epple noted that this is something that has never been done, noting three or four instances where alcohol was allowed in City parks on special occasions, where a waiver was granted.
One event “Bark In the Park” was sponsored by the Sedalia Lions Club four years ago, Epple's first year on the job as director, at Liberty Park, with orange fencing marking the area within the park where alcohol was sold and consumed during a certain time period. Council approval was granted in that case.
“It was never established (Park Board) policy,” Epple noted. “They came to us, we approved it, and we went to Council for their approval. So this was the fourth time, and so Park Board said, why don't we establish a policy for the Parks Department, set up an application process, and then take it to City Council, instead of having to do it every single time?”
Another event that involved alcohol was “Big Bam on the Katy Trail” a group of bicyclists who stayed overnight at Katy Park. This year's event is scheduled for June 5-10. The route stretches from Clinton to St. Charles, and includes Sedalia.
“This will be the first time at the Heckart,” Epple noted. For that event, entry would be restricted to the south patio doors, and attendees would have to show ID to staff.
Third Ward Councilman Bob Hiller told Epple she was doing a good job, “but my phone blew up today. The Third Ward does not want alcohol in the Heckart. Now if you want to have it somewhere else, there's plenty of venues downtown they can rent to have it there. That's what they threw up to me, and I kind of agree with them. I don't think that's what that was built for,” Hiller said of the Heckart.
“I know it's a fund-raiser and I get all that. I do a fund-raiser myself,” Hiller said, referring to the annual DARE Car Show held just outside the Municipal Building (this year's event is April 1), “But there's no alcohol at my deal, either.”
Third Ward Council Bob Cross offered his opinion, saying that City Council has been lenient in allowing alcohol at downtown Sedalia events.
“But I feel we don't need to have alcohol in our City Parks, or the Community Center” Cross told Epple. “And I am a firm no.”
When it came time for a vote, it was seven no, one yes, with Fourth Ward Councilman Steve Bloess casting the lone yes vote.
The Sedalia Park Board approved a waiver for the Sedalia Senior Center to serve alcohol during a fund-raiser scheduled for June 24 at the Heckart Community Center. The board was approached at its' January 12 meeting by Jeff Wimann, who is representing the Senior Center.
The event is scheduled to take place in the three community rooms, and not any other part of the center, it was noted.
Wimann attended Monday night's meeting and was clearly disappointed in the Council's final vote.
“The policy that the Park Board brought before the City Council was not approved, so therefore I was here for no reason, because I couldn't ask the City, because the policy to allow alcohol at any park wasn't approved at all,” Wiman told KSIS following the meeting.
When asked what the Senior Center's next step is, Wimann responded, “We have no next step, because you can't go to City Council if one of the other committee meetings have been turned down. In this case, we can't go before City Council. So unfortunately, it's not good for us, we're going to have to decide whether we'll still have the fund-raiser at the Heckart Center, or if we try to find another venue. It's an option, but it's an expensive option. We're trying to do this to raise money. To spend more money to go do this is not what we wanted. So I don't know what the answer is,” Wimann said.
“Our board is going to have to decide whether to continue with the event without alcohol, which is probably the case. It's probably what we're going to do, because so many things are in motion, we like that facility, the cooking of the food, the serving, and having our first one. Our long-term goal, like a lot of galas, is to not have it there, because there's no way we would have the room there. We would need to go elsewhere, because we would have so many more people coming. With our first gala, we don't expect to have hundreds and hundreds of people, to where you would need more space,” Wimann said.
The gala in June would use all three community rooms, but there is a capacity to each room. Wimann guestimated there would be a maximum of 158 people that could attend.
“Plus, we're honoring a bunch of seniors at this event, they take up space, right? And we were going to have a live band, maybe, but now I can't have that, because it takes space to have it inside. So all these issues came up,” Wiman stressed.
He added that at some galas, the ticket price is around $500 a seat, or $2,000 a table. “We're not going to get that at our first gala,” Wimann lamented.
“The need is still there,” he stated. “The Senior Center is now underfunded. We were doing fine for years, and then this past year, with the price of all goods, not just food (going up), we're not making money. We're losing money with every meal we make, and we need to figure out a way to. And we have a lot of nice fund-raisers, but this was going to be our biggest of the year, and still will be,” Wimann said.
“We have a thousand a month who come there and eat for lunch, and we serve 5,000 a month to Sedalia and Pettis County residents,” Wimann concluded.