The measure passed, 3-2. 

Cookeville – Thursday evening, as the freezing rain fell outside, the city of Cookeville approved an ordinance on second reading to ban alcohol on all municipal property except for city-produced and conceived events.

The measure passed, 3-2. 

Cookeville Mayor Laurin Wheaton voted against the amendment, saying the ordinance was not perfect. She told the crowded room it was their (the council’s) job to do what’s best for the community.

“I cannot in good conscience vote on an ordinance that is not the best one,” said Wheaton. 

Vice Mayor Luke Eldridge made the motion to approve, and it was quickly followed with a second by Councilman Ali Bagci. Councilman Erik Walker also voted against the ordinance while Eldridge, Bagci and Councilman Chad Gilbert all voted to approve. 

Citizens spoke, some stating concerns over the ordinance’s effect on nonprofits and others speaking on the safety of children in public parks. Jack Lane was one of those citizens. He told the council he was pleased the measure was approved on first read, but disappointed it was not unanimous.

“Given it’s a liability and safety issue, we were upset it was not a unanimous vote,” Lane told the council. “But appreciate the efforts of all involved.”

Others spoke on perceived apathy by the council, saying not allowing alcohol on Municipal property would be a slap in the face to the servers, restaurants and other businesses that make money during events such as Taste of The Town, WCTE’s fundraiser Blues and Brews and Wine on the West Side, which is, historically, held on West Broad Street and Cedar Avenue.

Councilman Erik Walker once again expressed his concern over the ordinance as written.

“It’s (the reach of the alcohol ban) spilling out to other public areas,” said Walker. “I think that is an overreach of what was originally requested. I think it’s good for these organizations to raise money. … I’m not saying we have the best ordinance in place. I certainly think a better-written ordinance is possible.”

In another motion, the Council approved a committee of “five community members to recommend policies and procedures for allowing events with alcohol on publicly owned property” before future ordinances are brought before the board.

That motion passed unanimously.

Photo courtesy of City of Cookeville YouTube .

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