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PARK BOARD GETS ALCOHOL PERMIT APPROVAL AUTHORITY

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 • POSTED BY:  Admin

Park Board gets alcohol permit approval authority

Michelle L. Quinn  Post-Tribune

April 11, 2017   7:07 AM

Hammond residents will have their say about the city's Park Board approving liquor licenses even though the ordinance passed Monday on third reading.

Residents also had a chance to speak publicly about the ordinance during City Council meeting after a series of motions put forth by Councilmen Dave Woerpel, D-5th, and Robert Markovich, D-At large. The new ordinance allows the Park Board to authorize alcohol sales and issue permits for all events held by civic, charitable, not-for-profit or labor organizations at any city park or venue, as long as the entity has obtained other required permits.

Previous versions of the ordinance allowed the Park Board to authorize the sale of alcohol at the Hammond Civic Center, Jean Shepherd Community Center and during the Festival of the Lakes, while only the council approved other events.

Markovich called for an April 24 public hearing on the ordinance, which was approved by the council 7-2. His next motion to table to ordinance until April 24, however, failed 6-3.

Resident Laurie Czulno said that while she doesn't have a problem with the Park Board being able to approve one-day permits for an event such as a family reunion, a long-term contract has the potential to be much more problematic. She wondered to what body she would be able to complain.

Another resident, David Sutkowski, said he's concerned that a long-term contract in Riverside Park like the one the Hammond Lakers baseball team has requested would be dangerous to younger teams playing in the area.

"The Optimist group is 7-year-olds, and we have a group who wants to sell beer for profit for their organization," Sutkowski said. "You really need to consider the safety issues, because people will be driving through and passing the Optimist and Babe Ruth fields."

Woerpel, who introduced the ordinance, called the uproar over Riverside Park a "sleight of hand."

"This ordinance transfers the decision to the Park Board, just like the Port Authority sets the fees for the boats," Woerpel said. "If we give (the Park Board) that right, those meetings are posted. It's not more complicated than that."

Councilman Pete Torres, D-2, concurred.

"We're giving the Park Board the right to control the parks. They can refuse to grant (licenses), and in the long run, excise gives the licenses, anyway," he said. "I have three parks in my district; if we go wild and they abuse it, we come back to the council and rescind it if it causes that much commotion.

"I'm sure the Park Board isn't going to go crazy. They'll go case-by-case."

Markovich then made two more motions, one to send a letter to Hammond Lakers Coach Anthony Spangler and the Park Board members asking them to attend the April 24 public hearing, and the second to subpoena them to attend. Both motions were defeated.

 

The public hearing on the ordinance will be held at 6 p.m. April 24 at City Hall.

Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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