If approved, the ordinance will affect events such as Taste of The Town, WCTE’s fundraiser Blues and Brews and Wine on the West Side
Cookeville – The Cookeville City Council may look to take up an ordinance that stops alcohol from being served on all municipal property and municipal streets.
According to City Manager James Mills, the proposed revisions would prohibit events with alcohol ocurring on municipal streets and municipal property except for special events inside the Cookeville Performing Arts Center and city-approved events at the Performance Pavilion at Dogwood Park. That means no more events with alcohol at Dogwood Park except for the Bryan Symphony Orchestra Event, community band concert and Shakespeare in the Park.
Currently, if any nonprofit meeting requirements wants to hold an event on a municipal street or municipal property, the city is obligated to permit it.
“The concern is there is no way to control who can or can’t (hold an event),” said Mills.
That includes extremist groups on both sides.
“That’s not happened,” said Mills. “But there is a concern that it will.”
Mills said the ordinance was drafted in response to a concern with barricades in Dogwood Park marking areas where alcohol may be consumed at events.
“The biggest issue is that there have been groups in the park that have had these events, and they felt like they needed to have a physical barrier from where alcohol can be served and consumed and where it could not.”
The city attorney advised the city no barriers are allowed in the park, and it must be completely open to the public.
“I understand that concern,” said Mills. “The concern is that without some sort of physical barrier, once you have your beer or whatever you could walk all over the park with that. We don’t patrol things unless there is a problem. We don’t have the manpower to go sit at these events.”
Alcohol and a community park filled with children may not be the best mix.
“The public park is available to all,” said Mills. “From small kids to the elderly.”
Mills says there haven’t been issues yet, but the concern is the potential that it could happen.
If approved, the ordinance will affect events such as Taste of The Town, WCTE’s fundraiser Blues and Brews and Wine on the West Side, which has been historically held on West Broad Street and Cedar Avenue.
“The Blues and Brews event in Dogwood Park has been successfully organized by WCTE for ten years,” Avery Hutchins, President and CEO of WCTE PBS told the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. “This event has attracted numerous individuals to Cookeville from Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky for a destination weekend. The Haunted Half Marathon, another event organized by the station and held on the same day, will also be significantly affected by this decision. The two fall events generate nearly $50,000 for WCTE, and these funds are now at risk if the new law is enacted by the city council. The absence of Blues and Brews would result in WCTE PBS losing critical funds that are essential for supporting the station’s operational needs.”
Currently, WCTE has plans to host Blues and Brews October 19, 2024.
Many local business owners say the move would be a positive step forward.
“Many of us think this is a good move. Because some permits can really create confusion with lost parking and the impact on loyal customer support to our businesses. So, cutting down on that type of chaos would be good,” said a local West Side business owner. “As far as popular events with notable nonprofits, I also think those can still happen if the organizers partner with a specific business to host and share their individual properties.”
The ordinance is set to be heard at Thursday’s city council meeting, but According to Mills, the ordinance may be pulled from The agenda before it is sent out this afternoon. The City Council meets Thursday, December 21 at 5:30 p.m. at 45 E. Broad Street in Cookeville.
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