Jun 15, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterAn alcohol ban at City Park has been lifted for Riverton's Chamber of Commerce Alive at Five concerts this summer.
The Riverton City Councilstruggledwith the proposal, but after several discussions and a split council, mayor Lars Baker broke a tie vote to approve the open container permiton Tuesday.
Alive at Five
Chamber representatives came before the council during the last two council meetings to ask that alcohol be allowed at the annual Alive at Five concerts scheduled forJune 21,July 19,Aug. 16 and Aug. 20.
The events were held at City Park last year, but were hosted elsewhere in the city in years past.
In order to provide consistency and encourage involvement, chamber board president Rowena Bland asked the council to consider allowing a fenced-off area for alcohol sales during the concerts at City Park, so that the events could continue to be held there. The old skate park enclosure would be ideal for such a "beer garden," Bland said.
The council passed a resolution in 2007, however, that designated City Park and Jaycee Park as alcohol-free in order to advance efforts to combat public intoxication and establish family-friendly locations in town.
Bland explained that the chamber has been holding the concerts for several years with a "business focus," but is now encouraging community involvement in hopes of promoting entertainment in the city.
"In the past we have scattered these events around the city to also highlight business sponsors," she said, noting the chamber wants to focus on family-friendly events now and in the future.
But the chamber board concluded that scattering the concerts has "hampered" efforts to make the community events fully accessible.
Bland said the chamber considered using the area near The Depot restaurant in downtown Riverton, but felt there wasn't enough space to accommodate the live music, bounce houses for kids, game areas and food vendors.
"We would like to establish the event as a regular part of the recreation offered at City Park," Bland said. "I am confident the chamber can responsibly host the event, serve alcohol and provide a worthwhile entertaining event for the entire community."
Bland referenced the chamber's recent operation of a beer garden for the Central Wyoming College 50 Forward concert. It was a successful event, she said, and conditions were set by the college including a limit of two alcohol tickets per person.
Bland holds a liquor license through her business, The Trailhead Family Restaurant, but she noted that the chamber would be operating the event at City Park.
"I value our business, and I value our insurance," Bland said. "If I jeopardize that, I'm jeopardizing my income (and) my business, and I'm not willing to do that."
The Alive at Five concerts are5-7:30 p.m.everyWednesdayand include food vendors and games for families.
Council members Kyle Larsen and Lance Goede opposed alcohol sales, though they acknowledged the desire to make the park more inviting to community members.
"Unfortunately, I do not see that there would be any advantage to the city allowing alcohol of any type in the park," Larsen said. "We have strived to keep that an alcohol-free zone and not only for the purposes of the community but for the request of the people using it."
He reminded Bland that he was one of the council members who voted against allowing a liquor license transfer to the Good to Go fuel station across the street from the park.
The event would bring in more people if alcohol was sold, Bland argued, but Goede disagreed.
"I'm not sure it's necessary," Goede said. "In fact, I would make an argument it's not necessary for alcohol to be present for it to be successful."Goede suggested the chamber first see how successful the event can be without alcohol sales.
Perhaps it's not necessary -- but it's legal, Bland responded.
"It's not a bad business," she said, "It has a bad name and a bad reputation because a few people have made the choice to do what they're doing."
The lack of activity in the park is part of the problem, she added.
The council acknowledged there was no public opposition to the permit applications. Voting nay to the chamber's permit application were Sean Peterson, Tim Hancock and Kyle Larson. Council members Holly Jibben, Mike Bailey and Lance Goede voted yes.
The council requested that the chamber return regularly to report on the events. It also stressed the importance of maintaining a "controlled environment" for the alcohol sales.
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