NEW PORT RICHEY — The City Council is considering allowing alcohol at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center during after-hours special events.
In an effort to generate revenue, the council has flirted with the idea of allowing special events at the recreation center on Van Buren Street to include use of the gymnasium and pool deck. But debate is taking shape over whether event planners will be allowed to serve alcohol.
At a work session last week, Mayor Bob Consalvo made it clear he doesn't want to see alcohol in the center, citing liability issues if someone drives from the facility where alcohol was served and causes an accident.
"I just don't think it's the proper place," Consalvo said.
The council is likely to take up the issue during a future meeting to approve allowing special events in general at the center.
"We can debate (the alcohol issue)," council member Chopper Davis said.
The council in recent years has relaxed other rules governing alcohol in the city. In 2008, the council made a controversial decision to allow alcohol in Sims Park during special events, and in early 2012 voted to allow patrons to take beer and wine out of downtown bars and onto the street in certain designated areas during special events.
Last week, Consalvo recalled serving as a council member during the Sims Park debate five years ago and said some in opposition predicted that allowing alcohol in the recreation center would be next.
"Now here we are," he said.