Will of residents, legal technicalities likely to derail Berry's proposal

Doug Berry's request to serve alcohol in Bresson Park will get an up or down vote in the coming weeks from Norwalk's council but would likely not go into effect this year. Council on Tuesday discussed Berry's request, which member Bob Carleton presented in two forms: One that would expand the city's lease agreement, which already allows the restaurant to serve food in the park, to include alcohol; the other that would change the city ordinance that prohibits alcohol in public parks.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Doug Berry's request to serve alcohol in Bresson Park will get an up or down vote in the coming weeks from Norwalk's council but would likely not go into effect this year.

Council on Tuesday discussed Berry's request, which member Bob Carleton presented in two forms: One that would expand the city's lease agreement, which already allows the restaurant to serve food in the park, to include alcohol; the other that would change the city ordinance that prohibits alcohol in public parks.

The legislation would cross a line and open up the city to challenges from other businesses or organizations, said Law Director Stuart O'Hara, who intends to do more research and present his findings at the June 26 council meeting. "You run into the problem of selectivity," he said. "It's opened a door I don't think you intended to open."

Council member Tom Stoll suggested the city might be able to alter Bresson Park's designation as a public park and make other arrangements with Berry's.

Mayor Sue Lesch said she opposes the proposal, not based on Berry's, but because it has wide repercussions.

Council member Dwight Tkach countered that the city always helps business through grants and tax abatements. Lesch responded that those dollars always come with a requirement to create a certain amount of jobs, which serves the public good.

Even rewritten to eliminate the potential legal problems, several council members said they have heard from many constituents and they are overwhelmingly and adamantly opposed to allowing alcohol in public parks.

"I'm sure the constituents I talked with aren't opposed to it on any technicality, they are full-blown opposed," said council member Chris Mushett. "I can't see the public view point changing no matter how we craft an ordinance."

Tkach said the city only focuses on the negatives and what ifs when businesses request help. He added other cities, such as Sandusky, are able to do such things and it has not had negative effects.

The city's park board voted against the proposal three-to-one earlier in the day.

Police Chief Kevin Cashen also spoke against the idea, saying public drinking is already a problem in the city. Lesch added Ann Bresson, a member of the family for which the park is named, opposes the proposal.

Comments

norwalktaxpayer...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...This proposal is a bad idea. It's city-owned, and therefore taxpayer owned property. It exposes the city to potential liability, in more ways than one.
Yes, other establishments in other towns offer outdoor alcohol sales, but it's on their own property.

I'm still not comfortable with Berry's leasing the property for outdoor dining. Again, it's supposed to be open to the entire public.
Just what is Berry's paying the city to lease the property? Is it any sort of substantial number, or is it a token figure?

If Berry's wants the area to sell alcohol, perhaps they could buy Bresson Park from the city.
Also, Berry's isn't going to go out of business, if they can't sell alcohol outside three months out of the year.

Having said all of that, I do enjoy Berry's, and eat there on a fairly regular basis.

AnotherNorwalkT...

The Police Chief, the Law Director, the Mayor, and a number of residents are not in favor. Add me to the list of residents not in favor. Also, I am one who has voted in the past for those pushing this measure. That may very well not be the case in the future.

Yes, this smacks of favortism. Yes, other businesses can be expected to seek similar treatment should the measure pass.

Not agreeing with the Mayor can be explained as politics. Not agreeing with the Police Chief and Law Director on this matter is alarming. Not agreeing with the residents/voters may mean it's time for a change.

Attention should be given to those on council pushing this measure. Given their conduct, it may result in extending their title to 'Former Councilperson.' That has happened before with some of the members.

I too eat at Berry's and like their menu. I entertain a number of business clients at the restaurant as well. The park area should not be used for alcohol consumption.

We have had two Strawberry Festivals uptown that are no more? Why? Maybe it isn't what's best for the city or business in general. Maybe it's just to fatten the pocketbooks of a select few.

CityTaxPayer (A...

I am completely opposed and I am still a bit salty that the city leased the land to Berry's as well. I dont think that is good use of our city greenspace. I can't go enjoy the park now in the evening without having a bunch of waiters and waitresses ask me if I want something. I don't think Berry should be allowed to do busines son the property let alone sell alcohol! COMPLETELY OPPOSED! IF this goes through I think we should impeach the mayor!

American 1st (A...

Why should Ann Bresson's opinion carry any more weight than anyone else's? I thought the parks belonged to the people of Norwalk.

Surprise! (Anon...

Serving alcohol in the park is not a bad idea at all - how nice would it be to sit outside, enjoy some light music and have a glass of wine or a beer - it would be lovely. But, some people see it as a bad thing, that drunks would run free through the city and that Berry's would turn into a hangout for young adults. Believe me, people wanting to drink until they pass out will not be visiting the park next to Berry's. They will go to the same places they are now. The Dinky is mostly used by responsible residents of Norwalk and the surrounding area - why is drinking outside going to change that?