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Allow alcohol sales in park, see what happens

Allow alcohol sale in park, see result

I moved to New Port Richey in 1962 and have lived in and around the west Pasco area since. I have seen many changes in and around the Sims Park/Orange Lake area. Many changes have been made to the park to meet the wants and the needs of the day.

Today, Sims Park and Orange Lake do not look anything like they did in 1962. Today, we have a beautiful park with a playground, lots of wide-open spaces, a beautiful riverfront area, an amphitheater and all of the amenities to allow for a variety of performances and events. Peace Hall sits on city-owned property right behind the amphitheater and accommodates other functions.

The new alcohol ordinance proposes another change to allow the sale of beer and wine on city-owned parks and recreation areas north of Main Street for nonprofit organizations on a very restricted basis. Many people are resistant to change.

The sale of beer and wine and the money that could be earned by nonprofits could encourage a broad array of new events to better utilize the amenities that are available in the Sims Park/Orange Lake areas. There are all kinds of speculations being presented by those that oppose the ordinance.

There is already the illegal consumption of alcohol during special events in Sims Park and it has proved to be difficult, if not impossible, to regulate. Anyone who has helped to clean up the park after a special event can testify to that. Who better to profit from the legal sale of alcohol than the nonprofits that provide so many services to the people of New Port Richey and west Pasco County?

Why not find out what kind of effect it will really have on the atmosphere of special events in the Sims Park/Orange Lake area. What is the harm to try it and see how it works? If it does not work then change it back to the way it is today.

I have not lived in the city since 1970, but over the past 35 years I have helped organize and volunteered at many special events in Pasco, Citrus and Pinellas counties where beer and wine have been served. One thing I have observed is that there are far more people who can and will drink alcohol responsibly than there are those who abuse the privilege. At all of the special events I have participated in there has always been security to deal with those who create any problems.

If you are in favor of the new alcohol ordinance then I encourage you to attend and be counted as being in favor at the second reading of the ordinance on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at the New Port Richey City Council meeting at City Hall.

Craig McCart

Executive director, Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation

Petition against park alcohol sale

On March 29, our son, Joseph Martell, was shot and killed during Chasco Fiesta. I felt strongly that public consumption on the streets during such events might have contributed to this horrible act of violence.

On Oct. 7, I spoke at the City Council meeting. I asked the Council not allow public consumption on the streets and certainly not in Sims Park. I followed up by writing a letter to Mayor Scott McPherson. I did not hear back, so I placed a call to him.

He informed me that while public consumption is not allowed by law on the streets, the city does not have the resources to enforce this. He stated the city could not arrest everyone guilty of public consumption. I asked him about the drinking that goes on before and during the parade. He basically said that could not be controlled either. So, it is my understanding we already have a situation that the city cannot control. So, why would we allow more sales of alcohol? How could this possible help?

The mayor also said he was in favor of wine tasting at art events and such. I felt this would open the door for other alcoholic beverages. It seems as though I was correct. The proposed ordinance includes beer.

The City Council members who voted for this are favoring the business owners' wishes, not the residents' wishes. The mayor is correct when he says we can vote them out one by one.

I would like to start a petition to stop this decision. If anyone would be willing to help, please reach me at the number listed in the telephone book for Kenneth and Mary Martell.

Mary Martell, New Port Richey

Don't mix alcohol vote and business

Is Mayor Scott McPherson not an active member or leader of several nonprofit organizations in the city? Is the mayor going to vote on the proposed alcohol-in-the-park ordinance even though, in my opinion, he should recuse himself?

Council member Judy DeBella Thomas, the salaried head of the Greater New Port Richey Main Street, can vote because City Attorney Tom Morrison said yes to her question asking if she is able to vote. The city attorney said ''yes, you can vote and you must vote.'' Council member DeBella Thomas also should recuse herself.

Mayor McPherson wrote in a Nov. 11 letter to the Times, "The voters will have a referendum on this and every issue.'' That means the voters will be able to vote on this issue or any other issue only at election time to vote him out of office.

The mayor also makes comment about delays and inviting failures by waiting for a referendum. Is the mayor so insecure that he is afraid of failure?

The public comments have been clear. A lot of the nonprofit agencies want this to pass, but there were a lot of citizens who made comments to not pass this ordinance.

Mayor, the people elected you and therefore you are obligated to do the will of the people, under the existing referendum, and not the will of the organizations of which you are a member.

Justin Billings, New Port Richey

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Allow alcohol sales in park, see what happens 11/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 20, 2008 6:47pm]
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