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.


Humanoid (Anonymous)

Good post re:unknown... you're right. It's a vocal minority group of belly achers that these councilmembers are afraid of.

Now they can sit at home satisfied that people won't have the ultra crazy evil thrill of having a draft sitting in the open air while eating their steak fries.

Thank Heaven, I can sleep easy tonight. Thank you angry old guard of Norwalk for watching out for us all.

Thinking (Anonymous)

people there are more things that could be going on get a job and take care of your families. Stop thinking about the next time and place you can drink. This town is going to Hell. Not to much good is coming from it. All the town sounds like is a place for kids and drunks to party at. They might even get the NPD to party with them.


You seem to have the majority confused with the minority. Yes, people at Berry's signed the book at the counter in favor of the proposal. That doesn't mean that's the majority of Norwalk citizens favor it. That just means a number of Berry's patrons favor it. There's a big difference.
I don't think it will, but if this thing ever made it to the ballot, it would fail miserably.

Humanoid (Anonymous)

This town is going to hell? Give me a break it's a very nice place to live.

The ballot may fail only because most people don't vote, the ones that do unfortunately are ones that sit around and bemoan anything fun.

I live in a good part of town and I know, if I walked around and asked people if they cared most if not all would not. It's not like Rupp's is asking to serve beer on their front sidewalk, it's Berry's. The biggest disorderly problem you'll have from it is maybe some middle aged woman laughs too loud at a joke after getting buzzed. It would be NO problem. When has *anyone* in this city ever uttered the phrase... 'Hey let's go get hammered, time to head to Berry's!'

AlterEgo (Anonymous)

I also believe that the majority o the citizens of Norwalk don't care either way. People who are in favor of it just aren't enthusiastic about defending it. But the opponents are very vocal, as they are in most of these type of issues that have come before this community.

mytown (Anonymous)

How smart do you think Doug will be dealing with the fact that coucil said no? Do you think he'll quit beating this dead horse or make it stand up so he can try to ride it down to city hall one more time? My bet is on the second choice.

Felipe (Anonymous)

Remember conservative Norwalk backwards thinking voters, please keep Berry's from serving alcohol outside. Nothing could help my business more, come visit the new Casa Fiesta! Arriba!

mytown (Anonymous)

I think that's a great idea. We all need to go out and support a local business that took it upon themself to go find a new location here in Norwalk to expand their business. It's great to see someone advance in this cut throat market we have here in our community. Maybe they could've stayed in their old building and just waited for the city to build a park next door. Think of all the money they could've saved.

Gas Guzzler (An...

i know that i am changing the subject here for a moment , but please bear with me for just a moment .. yesterday i drove to Bellevue , and was shocked to see that the price of gas was $.20 higher per gallon in the town of Norwalk , than any of the surrounding area?? why?? i feel that the Norwalk gas dealers have decided to overcharge the entire town , and i fear that they feel that we have become too complacent to do anything about it. i would like your help in showing them that they are wrong , and they have underestimated us as a community ..i remember the late 60's and early 70's when people would stand up for what the believed in , and try to right a wrong that was happening !! i feel that , that spirit has been quiet for awhile , but i hope that that feeling is not dead !!i am asking for your help , in joining us in refusing to buy your gas from the Norwalk stations until they bring their gas prices down to a competetive level , with the surrounding area.... i would like us to stage a summertime "gas out" to show they gouging dealers that we are taking our consumer buying power back , and we will decide where we will spend our hard earned money , and show then that we will no longer buy gas from someone who knowingly takes advantage of us by overcharging us for no apparent reason..please , join us , starting today , and lasting all summer long if it takes that long , and together we will show them our strength , our power, and ourselectivity... please tell your friends , your neighbors , your relatives ,and everyone in your email address book , and ask them to join us , in showing the dealers that we as a community , are "mad as hell ,and we're not going to take it anymore" thank you in advance for your help and your support

Felipe (Anonymous)

Hooray for people like 'mytown' who never miss a chance to let everyone know that they are a taxpayer! Holy frijoles a taxpayer stop the presses, I've never met a taxpayer before. In America, if you are a taxpayer I did not know it made you el jefe! Whatever amigos, I don't care why or how just keep hometown restaurants behind the ocho ball, life is good for move ins like us at Casa Fiesta. Hasta luego!

mytown (Anonymous)

You're right, how dare someone other than a white business owner make money here in the United States and especially in Norwalk. That's just a disgrace! When you use the term "move ins like us at Casa Fiesta" are you upset the the city doesn't practice the "good old boy" brand of politics to keep any other business from moving here or are you just being a blatant racist?

freebird (Anonymous)

im new to this post, so heres my ten cents worth , my problem isnt the legal issue here , its the berrys food, it sucks period, ive eaten there three times in the last four years , and it only got worse , last time they gave my girlfriend her money back but they didnt re-emberse me.
maybe they should get rid of there food altogether and make it a bar only? use the park for a smoking area.
and for them needing money let me tell you something,
my friend worked there in high school as a cook mid 80s told me they had a signed bottle of vine in the basement, to commemorate there fist million dollars back in 72 when the old man ran it. so this is not a money issue its about vanity and ego , im undecided about the issue i might need a shot of whiskey before i eat my nasty mashed potatoes...enough said

college grad (A...

thank you "gas guzzler " i will definately support your "gas out" and in an effort to bring the price of gas down , i will buy my gas elsewhere , and i will tell all of my friends about this too .. i hope that we are successful in dealing with the local dealers, and i hope that we can make them realize that they can not overcharge us any longer ....i suppoert "gas out"