When it comes to alcohol sales at Freeman Lake Park, the current policy is it must be a city of Elizabethtown sponsored event.
During Monday’s city council work session, councilman Matt Deneen presented the idea of potentially expanding the opportunity of alcohol sales at the park, specifically at the bandstand and the Emerald Cathedral Amphitheater, to include events put on by local nonprofits.
“What I am searching for here tonight is not a vote for approval or disapproval. I am asking for us to consider the possibility of opportunities that we can give some of the 501(c)3 organizations that are local,” Deneen said. “ ... I think it’s a reasonable request considering what we already do and what we have already allowed. I think it opens the door for opportunities going forward.”
Deneen said there are already alcohol sales allowed for a few special events on city property throughout the community, such as Hardin County AM Rotary Club’s Roktoberfest in the Cherry lot downtown.
Additionally, Deneen noted in the past they lost a national touring event, sponsored by Budweiser, at Freeman Lake Park because they weren’t allowed to have alcohol sales in the bandstand area.
Deneen, who is on the Greenspace board, said the potential change goes beyond just Greenspace.
“It’s a look at opportunities here for our performing arts throughout the community,” he said. “What I am asking here is for us to consider making those adjustments as we grow, and, as our city matures, we look at these options for opportunities.”
Deneen said they could shape the policy to be limited in scope anyway they see fit. For instance, they could limit the number of special events they permit through an application process, he said.
Councilwoman Julia Springsteen said she would be in favor of a narrow scope. She said the last year has been dismal for nonprofits on the fundraising front. It would be favorable for them to have a chance to host a fundraiser with alcohol at the lake, she said.
But, Springsteen said she is not in favor of so many limitations that only one nonprofit could take advantage of the potential opportunity.
Councilman Marty Fulkerson said he was not in favor of the idea of additional alcohol sales at Freeman Lake. He also had concerns on who would pay for the city resources – cleanup, maintenance and policing – to make an event happen.
“At the end, it still comes back to the city,” he said.
Councilman Tony Bishop agreed.
“The longer I’ve been around it does come back to the city to put in or try to figure out the way to adjust for labor and time to cover it. ... In a roundabout way, whether we like it or not, we’re going to be sponsoring this. We are the city. We are the landowner. We can control what we need to control, but at the end of the day we’re still going to maintain it,” he said.
Additionally, Councilwoman Cindy Walker expressed concern how the potential areas of alcohol sales would be delineated.
“I think it’s a great idea. But I think as a body we have to decide, do we want alcohol at the lake? And I think in the past the answer has always been no – very limited. Each time you open up a gate it gets wider and wider. I guess that is what we have to determine, is that what we want?” she said.
Deneen encouraged the council to continue to discuss this matter and, “hopefully find a way to strengthen the foundation for what is proposed ... to where the city feels comfortable enough for this expanded opportunity.”
Residents can view the discussion via Mayor TV on the city’s website, elizabethtownky.org.