Residents voice their opinions on alcohol in park

City council may have two big decisions on tap at the next meeting on July 24 whether to allow alcohol in public parks and whether to allow a tax abatement for Batesville Casket Company to move off U.S. 250 into a new facility in the Norwalk Commons development. Council members didn't discuss their views on allowing Berry's Restaurant to serve alcohol in Bresson Park during Tuesday night's council meeting, but audience members spoke for both sides of the issue.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

City council may have two big decisions on tap at the next meeting on July 24 whether to allow alcohol in public parks and whether to allow a tax abatement for Batesville Casket Company to move off U.S. 250 into a new facility in the Norwalk Commons development.

Council members didn't discuss their views on allowing Berry's Restaurant to serve alcohol in Bresson Park during Tuesday night's council meeting, but audience members spoke for both sides of the issue.

Mike Babcock, of 54 Linwood Ave., spoke against the proposal. "Don't let this nice, quaint little city prostitute itself," he said. He called the renewal of legislation to allow alcohol in public parks in the downtown area if the seller had a permit and a lease with the city "a waste of taxpayers' dollars" and said the proposal "smacks of favoritism" since only one business has asked for the arrangement.

Babcock said every poll he has seen has been against the proposal, which shows the public doesn't support it. He added that the combination of concealed carry permits for weapons and alcohol in a public park could be a dangerous combination.

Debra McClung, who owns both a design business and a realty company in Lewisburg, W.Va., and is currently working on a design project for Berry's, urged council members to consider the proposal. She said the small town of Lewisburg's downtown "was dying" until the town approved a similar proposal to allow alcohol on public property with special permission.

"It absolutely amazed me what it has done for business in the whole downtown area," she said, adding Lewisburg's downtown has several new businesses and even restaurants that don't serve alcohol have benefited from the change in policy. The downtown has worked together to bring in tourism dollars and allowing alcohol on public property is part of that plan, she said after the meeting.

Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen repeated his opposition to the proposal after the meeting. "I'm still against drinking in the public parks," he said.

Cashen pointed out that 44 Norwalk businesses have liquor permits from the state and 20 of those businesses also serve food. He added that the state has granted 12 liquor permits to businesses in the downtown area.

"I don't think the public lacks opportunity to get a drink if they want," he said. Cashen said he supported Berry's request for a liquor permit for the Dinky Pub and Grille, but he doesn't believe the restaurant should expand the serving of liquor outside of its building.

On the issue of development of the Norwalk Commons project on the north side of the city, the manager for Batesville said the company would like to leave its U.S. 250 location and move into a new 25,000-square-foot, million-dollar facility just two blocks away in the area being developed by Pride One.

Manager Mike Kierstead said the move would take the company from Norwalk Township into the city so the city would benefit from additional income tax dollars. As part of a proposed deal, he added, Pride One would then use the frontage on U.S. 250 to expand its development project.

Mayor Sue Lesch called the proposal "significant" for Pride One. Batesville would not only encourage other companies to consider joining the development, she said, but Pride One plans to use the abandoned frontage on U.S. 250 to add restaurants to the development.

Ben Kenny, development coordinator for WSOS Community Action Commission based in Fremont, explained to council that Batesville is now working through state channels to get permission to apply for tax abatement since the state considers the move a relocation instead of an addition. He said the state discourages abatements for relocations so that communities can't entice businesses away from other communities routinely by offering new abatements. If Batesville gets the state waiver, he said, council can consider an abatement of up to 60 percent for the new facility.

Comments

mytown (Anonymous)

Keep trying if you want to make me look foolish. If you're lucky someday, you just might do it. You say my aguements are not based on facts. Then what are your arguements based on? Your whole arguement as far as I can read is solely based on the fact alcohol is legal and you want to sit in a park and drink. Well, I'm happy to say you must not be in the majority or it would've passed already, right? You're correct, this is not a debate because that would require 2 people expressing their opinions followed by them backing it up with a decent arguement to prove their point. Simply using the arguement "becasue I want it" has probably never been used as a solid defence in a debate. I have no ill will tword Doug Berry or his business so please don't try to make this sound like some kind of "hatefest". My feelings on this issue would be no different no matter who it was trying to use a public park for something it was never meant to be used for, a money making venture.
This is a small town and we do have 2 taxi services to choose from. So if you want to drink a beer outside with your meal, why don't you use your legs or one of those taxis to goto a place that will let you sit outside and drink, legally on private property? Do you honestly want the city to change laws so just a select few can have what they want?

me (Anonymous)

Alter Ego: It sounds like maybe they should set up an AA meeting in the park for you. You must need it.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

OK, then we must have no more Farmers Markets in Pohl Park, for this is a money making venture. That park was put in to sit and enjoy the scenery and who wants to have it all cluttered with produce booths. And lets get rid of that doggone festival too, well I don't think they made any moeny last year but they did try. And there aint no way we shoudl let Bill Bader monopolize mainstreet either. How many of those people down there were selling things. I think the italian sausage guy was driving a really nice car.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

Although I never have been to an AA meeting alcohol and drug abuse was a big problem with relative in my family. But I put the blame on those people not the alcohol itself. I don't actually drink that much myself. I may have a beer if I go out to eat, but I rarely drink anything at home. In fact you can find beer in my fridge over a year old.

mytown (Anonymous)

How many times a week does Bill Bader monopolize Main St.? Oh wait, that's once a year. How many times a week did the festivals happen uptown? Oh wait, that was once a year. How many times a week can Berry's use the park? When ever he damn well pleases. Come on, try and come up with some kind of a decent arguement. Once again your arguement is solesly based on the point "if I can't have my way then everyone else must suffer". By your own admission if the city doesn't allow Berry's to sell alcohol with their food, then everyone else that uses uptown parks or streets on a yearly basis has to get the hell out of town! "OK, then we must have no more...." is how you started off. Is alcohol really that important in your life? You really want the city to change it's laws and some of it's community standards just so you can drink a beer in a park? That's just sad. One last thing, the last time they had the Strawberry festival uptown, you know where they had the beer tent set up? It was in the St. Paul's parking lot...private property. Did you hear the Jaycee's crying because they couldn't sell beer on public property?

Norwalktaxpayer...

JEF,

Thanks for the correction. The website's pretty interesting, and I'm familiar with Holmes County. The Amish seem to know what they're doing! Perhaps we could draw some up from southern Huron County! :-)
Seriously, I understand what you're saying, and I agree with some of it. But as I've said before, I don't think it's appropriate for Berry's to use city-owned property for profit, regardless of whether it's for dinner, or dinner and alcohol.
As far the arguments posted by others, you really can't compare Berry's and Thunder in the Streets, the Heritage Festival and the former Strawberry Festival. It's like apples and oranges, comparing 1-2-3 day events to 3-4 months. BTW...Who was one of the biggest complainers about the Strawberry Festival? Berry's.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

mytown, quit changing your story, in your previous post you stated , "My feelings on this issue would be no different no matter who it was trying to use a public park for something it was never meant to be used for, a money making venture." Now that I bust that arguement you have to quantify it to a time frame? What if Berry's only wanted to server alcohol in the park once a week or once a month? How about every other odd weekday that follows a full moon? You don't want Berry's to serve alcohol period. It still wouldn't matter to you, would it? And one of the reasons the Strawberry Festival doesn't exist anymore is because of the beer tent and people like you who complained that it needed to be shut down. Now you are using the Jaycee's beer tent to justify an arguement for not allowing Berry's to serve alcohol. The big complainers about the Strawberry Festival were on the other end of Main Street, but when they were confronted directly to get their imput, they had no complaints about the beer tent, I know this because I talked to several of them personally.

JEF (Anonymous)

Norwalktaxpayer, it appears to me that when it comes down to it that we agree more often than not on issues related to an expansion and enhancement of the local economy.

mytown (Anonymous)

Uh, before you speak and stick your foot in your mouth again, ask people some questions before you accuse them of doing something they never did. I never complained and I certainly had nothing to do with the Strawberry Festival being shut down. As a matter of fact, I was with 5 buddies sitting in the beer tent listening to the music and drinking when the whole fight thing happened and they started to ask people to leave. If you would've actually read and now I'm considering the fact that you can't, you would see I typed the word "park". You even re-typed it when you quoted me. The Jaycee's didn't have the beer tent set up in a public park, street or anything. IT WAS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY IN THE ST. PAUL PARKING LOT! I made sure to capitalize that so maybe you can read it. If I recall correctly as I walked around uptown that weekend there wasn't anyone selling anything in Bresson Park. I only remember a bunch of people sitting on benches, around the fountain and standing around talking with a bunch of kids running around. One thing you did pick up is I don't want Berry's (or anyone for that matter) serving alcohol in a public park. Hooray, you figured that out. That's why I didn't care what happened with the Strawberry Festival, if it's not on public land then what happened there is their own business. By the way, 2 of the cocked idiots I saw involved in the fight that night are some of those upstanding and responsible people that frequent Berry's/Dinky. You know, the ones you tried to tell me would never get drunk in the park and act like dipshits. Maybe they won't do it in a park but their track record for parking lots isn't very good.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

You said "My feelings on this issue would be no different no matter who it was trying to use a public park for something it was never meant to be used for, a money making venture."
And then you said, it is OK to use Pohl Park for the Farmer's Markets, which put money into private individuals pockets. Is Pohl Park a public park? Does the city maintain it? This is what I am talking about you can't have it both ways? Either you can allow money making ventures to use city property or not, it has to be equal accross the board.

mytown (Anonymous)

Yes, I said that but this shows a perfect example of extacly what I was talking about. Remember the city already granted Berry's a lease to sell food in the park? So how can the city tell local farmers that they can't sell their produce uptown? As long as they let 1 company use public land they have to let everyone have the same option or I truly believe people will starting sueing on the grounds of discrimination and I wouldn't blame them. I truly stand behind exactly what I said. The city of Norwalk should not build public parks with taxpayer money and then lease out portions of it to private groups. I don't think the Farmers should be there at all but how can I say they need to leave when right down the street another person is legally turning a buck? I'll remind you of what you just typed, "Either you can allow money making ventures to use city property or not, it has to be equal across the board". Thanks for proving my point.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

Ok, and let's stop the Heritage Festival and Thunder in the Streets too because those things are making money too.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

And don't forget the fishing derby at the resovoir too.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

And no more food concession at Baines Park, or McGuan for that matter. Can't have anyone there making any money either. Don't the referees for the softball teams get paid, damn, I guess that means no more softball games either.. Either all or none....We can't let the rich keep getting richer.....

mytown (Anonymous)

Are you really that dense or do you fake it that well? Lemme see, since the umpires are paid by the city to umpire softball games that technically makes them subcontractors (employees) for the parks deptartment. So once again you're wrong. Arent't the concessions also run by the city? If they are. you're wrong. The fishing derby is put on by a non profit group/city and is free to the public. Just so you know, "free" usually means no one was charging money. So you're wrong once again. They must have your picture hanging on the wall of the Dinky with candles burning all around it. You're fighting so hard to help Berry get what he wants, should put you on the payroll (if you aren't already). This arguement is getting tiring and boring. I'm getting cramps in my hands from having to type "you're wrong" so many times.

mytown (Anonymous)

If you're so desperate to sit outside to eat and drink, why don't YOU rent your backyard to Berry's? You can sit outside and be served food while enjoying a beer and just think how you'd be helping out a city business. Just make sure to keep the flowers watered, the lawn mowed, the weeds pulled, the bushes trimmed and the trees pruned to make sure Berry's customers are happy to show up and use your yard. Remeber, no matter how much money it costs you to keep your yard at its finest or how much money he brings in, he'll be glad to give you $200 a month and he won't even use your whole yard. You can go sit in some corner and enjoy yourself.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

Are you sure about the concession stands at the parks? Do you want to check your facts first...... There is still time ti call the city and how them who handles selling chips and hotdogs, for a profit at the concession stands......

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

And I have absolutely nothing to do with Berry's other than I have eaten there before. My issue is with people who make comments like "Why does Doug Berry deserve having the city change laws so he can serve alcohol in a public park just to make more money for himself? Since he'll be making more money, will he then turn around and raise his employee's wages or do you think he'll just stick the money in his pocket?" Your real issue is with someone making money, isn't it. Berry's serving alcohol in a leased space is not detriment to anyone or anything, you just don't want Berry's to make a dollar doing it.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

Holy crap! I just realized another person who is making money on public property....That dogggone Ice Cream man is selling his ice cream while on the public road. That no good capitalist pig.

weak points (An...

alterego, you points are really lame. It's a public park, if people are allowed to come and sit at Berry's tables in the park and the kids are allowed to be kids in on and around his dining area, even if they are not patrons of Berry's. In other words if the public looses no access to the park where Berry wants to run a private business on public property then I'm not against it. We all know that is not the case. Not only am I against it, this has gone on to long and I'm voting against anyone who is currently in office. This is a common sense issue that apparently continues to look for some sense that is obviously not that common.

City (Anonymous)

The lease is a non-exclusive lease meaning that eveyone else can still use Bresson Park

mytown (Anonymous)

Here's something plain and simple. I'll only ask you one thing. Why don't you personally respond to that question that apparently you have so much trouble hearing from other people, "Why does Doug Berry deserve having the city change laws so he can serve alcohol in a public park just to make more money for himself"? Please just give us a detailed response as to why you think 1 person/company deserves and should be given the sole right to use a public park for their own personal gain? Please don't give a response like, "because he wants to" or "because he asked". I truly would like to hear your answer to that question so I can try and understand your reasoning.

mytown (Anonymous)

City, how can something like a lease be "non-exclusive"? Why would anyone sign a lease and pay money to somebody if you were not guaranteed the sole use of what you're paying for? How many people have a "non-exclusive" lease for a car or a home? That would be a nightmare! You go to use your leased car to find someone else sitting in the driver's seat and you can't tell them to get out or leave because under your lease agreement, they have just as much right to be there as you do. Would you pay the city money every month and not be gauranteed that you can say who can and can't sit in the area you're paying for?

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

The reasons it should be changed are: In this particular instance related to Berry's only, it will increase revenue for a local business without taking business from other establishemts, the patrons who frequent this particular restaurant are not the rowdy bar crowd, this restaurant has a good reputation for being responsible with the alcohol sales, since it is not an exlusive lease the park will still be able to be used by every other citizen, and allowing alcohol to be served with a meal will not be a detriment to the park, or our town. There will also be a financial benefit to the city as the price of the lease should rightfully go up, and the increased revenue will filter through many ways back to the community in business and payroll taxes to the city, increased wages and tips to the employees, increased purchases of the beverage vendors products, such as Maple City Ice and Mid Ohio Wines. So every dollar that is spent down there will be spent again several times in our community. I realize these amounts are tiny in comparison, but the few legitimate negatives can be handled if the legislation is properly amended. Those who do not want to sit out there and have a beer or wine can still order a soda. And those who do not like the food there still don't have to eat there. I assume any change would be a trial, and case by case basis, and any other establishment located next to setting that would fit this type of model should be considered too.

mytown (Anonymous)

Thank you for stating your answer to the question. I still don't agree with what you feel is fair or right and probably never will but just like I have the right to express my opinion, you have the right to express your's and I respect that.

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

mytown, I guess we agree with each in the respect that we have the right to express our opinions. Either way this goes I still love this town, and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

unknown (Anonymous)

if they let the alcohol in the park then people will what to drink elsewhere and then if kids see this they will think it will be ok for them to start to drink I think this is a bad idea

re:unknown (Ano...

If the ordinance is change it would affect this park and this establishment only. Any other request would be looked at individually. And as far as kids seeing aldults drinking responsibly, well that is not a bad thing.

unknown (Anonymous)

then that means then people will think you can drink in all the parks and then go out on Old State an drink at the resivor

re:unknown (Ano...

Do you honestly really think that Berry's serving alcohol will leade to people drinking in other parks? That is just plain not true. The thing about this is that most people in the town really could not care less whether Berry's serves alcohol in the park or not, but there is a very vocal number of people who do not want this, I would guess if you polled evey resident in this town it wouldl overwhelmingly be "I do have not problem with it" The problem is the ones who don't really care, are not motivated to speak up because it just doesn't matter to them.

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