Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey reviews allowing alcohol in Sims Park

NEW PORT RICHEY — Eight years after voters rejected the idea, City Council members on Tuesday will once again consider whether to allow alcohol sales and consumption in Sims Park during downtown events.

Often a controversial subject, the issue is the only item on the agenda for the council's work session. Council members will not vote on the matter but may decide to put it up to a vote at a future meeting.

As it stands now, city ordinance allows nonprofit civic groups putting on events such as Chasco Fiesta and Bikefest to sell alcohol only in Cavalaire Square, a pocket park south of Main Street.

People attending the events are expected to toss their beers and wine before heading into Sims Park, where the musical entertainment and vendors are usually set up.

Mayor Scott McPherson, who requested the subject be put on the agenda, acknowledged the change might not be popular. But he said the restriction is difficult to enforce, scares away programmers for larger events and doesn't make much sense.

"Does it become unethical north of Main Street whereas it's ethical south of Main Street?" said McPherson, who serves as chairman of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, which puts on Chasco and Bikefest.

Given that the city will no longer be offering $40,000 worth of special event funding to nonprofit groups like the chamber or Greater New Port Richey Main Street, he said, increased alcohol sales could generate more revenue for the groups. He noted that large events such as Ribfest, which is held in Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, flourish in large part because of alcohol sales.

But Betty Black, secretary of the parks and recreation advisory board, said there is a certain sanctity in Sims Park, which is also home to a popular children's playground.

"I don't want alcohol in the park with our children," she said. "It's not setting a good example. … I'm not a teetotaler, don't get me wrong — I enjoy my glass of wine before dinner. But I have no desire to drink in the park."

The advisory board voted at its last meeting against changing the alcohol ordinance, she said.

The quest to allow nonprofit groups to sell alcohol on city property began in 1999 as a fundraising idea for the Community Cooperative, which became Greater New Port Richey Main Street. On a 3-2 vote, the council approved an ordinance allowing groups to sell moderate amounts of beer and wine in designated areas at downtown events.

Residents balked, and the council quickly rescinded the ordinance and adopted a second one limiting sales to Cavalaire Square. A petition drive forced the issues to a public vote in 2000.

About 65 percent of voters were against selling alcohol in city parks, period. Slightly more, 69 percent of those who voted, were against selling alcohol at Sims Park.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

>>fast facts

If you go

The City Council work session begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 5919 Main St., New Port Richey.

New Port Richey reviews allowing alcohol in Sims Park 08/22/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2008 3:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  3. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  4. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000


    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]