July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Brunswick Council considers allowing alcohol at city parks, rec center

BRUNSWICK — City officials hope to attract more party planners to Brunswick’s Community Recreation and Fitness Center and outdoor parks by allowing renters to serve alcoholic beverages.

At City Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee meeting Monday, several members voiced interest in allowing alcoholic beverages in city parks as long as there are regulations in place.

A city ordinance prohibits bringing alcoholic beverages onto city property or to city parks.

Council members complained that the law is forcing residents to hold their parties and fundraisers in nearby cities.

“If people want to have a fundraiser with alcohol, they go to Middleburg Heights or Strongsville,” said Councilman Dave Coleman, Ward 3, committee chairman.

Parks and Recreation Director John Piepsny said he modeled a draft of a revision to the ordinance that would allow alcohol in Brunswick parks and community center based on the one in use in Middleburg Heights.

“Middleburg Heights is really popular for weddings,” he said.

Piepsny said there have been requests for weddings in the city’s facilities that didn’t pan out because the city couldn’t allow them to serve alcohol.

Next year, Piepsny said, the Pearlview Rehab and Wellness Center along with KHM travel want to host a wine-and-cheese tasting for local seniors at the recreation center.

“This is an event they’d like to host regularly,” he said.

Piepsny’s draft proposal would require those serving alcohol at the recreation center or city parks to carry $1 million in insurance coverage naming the city of Brunswick as an additional insured on their policy.

The policy also would require that an off-duty Brunswick police officer be at the event and paid $30 an hour, the rate now charged by the Police Department.

Councilman Vince Carl, Ward 2, suggested the language in the draft ordinance be changed to simply state that the officer be paid “at a rate set by the chief of police.”

Carl said this would make a rate adjustment easier and not require Council to amend the ordinance at a later date.

Carl also suggested there be a permit required for those wishing to serve alcohol in city parks. The permit would have to get additional approval from the city manager and police chief.

He said the additional permit cost could be assessed to help the city pay for any extra cleanup required at the park.

“I think we need to make sure we at least cover our cost in the permit fee,” Carl said.

Coleman suggested that a second officer be required for larger events. He urged Piepsny to work with Police Chief Carl DeForest to determine how large a party would need to be to require an additional officer.

Piepsny said he would take the Council suggestions to Law Director Ken Fisher and DeForest and present an updated draft at the next meeting.

Coleman said he thinks an ordinance allowing alcohol to be served has a good chance of gaining support from Council.

“People in Brunswick are doing fundraisers and they’re doing weddings, but they’re taking it to another city,” Coleman said. “We want to keep them here.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.