POSTED: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 5:04am
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — The East Baton Rouge Metro Council made another change to parish alcohol laws Wednesday, expanding access to alcohol at BREC facilities .
The proposal passed by a 10-0 vote, with councilwomen Ronnie Edwards and Tara Wicker abstaining.
Under the old law, if people wanted to have alcohol present at events held on BREC grounds, they had to apply to two separate BREC committees, the Metro Council, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, in a process that often took three months to complete.
BREC claimed that many potential customers would become so discouraged by the process that they would withdraw their requests.
The new ordinance gives BREC licenses to provide alcohol at 24 golf courses, parks, and facilities parish-wide. The result is that a more efficient process should result in happier patrons and more revenue.
At Wednesday's council meeting, the majority of the people in attendance supported the plan, though some worried about the council relaxing alcohol laws for the third time in the last six months.
"Is the bottom line money and the revenue that's coming from here," asked Pat Rusk, "and if so, what is that teaching our children?"
Carolyn McKnight, BREC's superintendent, said her staff had spoken with neighbors of several parks who were concerned about the impact of having more alcohol in parks near their homes.
"We have put some very strict, very tight measures in place," McKnight said, "to make sure that we are not allowing anything to happen that will affect the community, that will create an unsafe situation. We are working in every possible way we can to make sure that we are not opening this community up to additional problems."
"As long as the hours that they have given us, and some of the improvements they're talking about making to the park, are adhered to," Donna Andre told the council, "we have no objection to their plan."
There are several parks in which alcohol will still be prohibited, including the Perkins Road Community Park Extreme Sports Complex and the J.S. Clark Park golf course, which is home to The First Tee. Those facilities all feature a high number of young users.
Rusk thought that part of the plan was illogical.
"Does that mean that all the other golf courses, that none of the parents are going to take their children to play golf there?" she asked.
McKnight noted that BREC will hand out permits for special events on a case-by-case basis to ensure that every single person gets to enjoy its parks.
"Whenever we have a festival, or a fair, or a major concert, we will ensure that children, there's a designated area for consumption," she stated.
The change will not take effect right away. BREC has to work with ABC to get all the proper licenses, and its staff members need to go through classes to be certified to handle alcohol.