City officials are still likely to pass a policy permitting the use of alcohol at events in the Community Cabin despite protests from several officials and citizens.
Council is scheduled to consider final approval at its May 3 regular meeting of the change allowing use of alcohol in the cabin if approved by the Safety/Service Director after reviewing the event. Mayor Kevin Kennedy’s administration brought the proposal back to council this year after the panel approved a cordoned off beer tent at North Olmsted Homecoming in 2010 but pushed back considering permitting alcohol at Community Cabin events saying it wanted to see how the homecoming activity worked out.
Kennedy said he understands the concerns but believes allowing alcohol use at the cabin for selected events will provide long-term benefits for the city.
‘We’re putting in safeguards in place by having the director review it and by having an off-duty police officer there,” he said after the April 19 city council meeting. “We’re also going to be able to draw more events to the cabin, including some that otherwise would not have come to it. We’re working at drawing more people and events into the city and this is another way to do it.”
Council moved the measure past second reading without comment from its members, but two school board members, a member of the city board of zoning appeals and a former city council candidate all voiced opposition to the proposal. The proximity of the cabin to a playground and other children’s activities in North Olmsted Park where the cabin is located.
Current School Board President John Lasko and board member Terry Groden reiterated their objections to opening the door to alcohol use in the cabin.
Groden cited a series of statistics about youth health problems and how alcohol use or exposure to it contributes to problems for the youngsters.
“Do we really want to expose our children to this?,” Groden said.
Lasko, who was honored by the city earlier in the meeting with a proclamation noting his years of service on the Municipal Planning and Design Commission, the school board and a wide range of other community activities, cited the park as the hub of many family-related activities in the city.
“The cabin and the park are not the place to allow the use of alcohol,” he said.
BZA member Jennifer Rudolph asked Law Director Michael Gareau Jr. if he was satisfied that the city would not be facing big risks by allowing the alcohol use. Gareau indicated that he has reviewed the proposal and that he is satisfied that the city is adequately covered.
Dennis Lambert, who has unsuccessfully sought the Ward 4 council seat, council presidency and county council seat in recent years, also expressed reservations about having the alcohol use at a city facility. He also said it is not the same thing as allowing it at Springvale, the city owned golf course and ballroom/reception center, noting Springvale is designed for such events.
Prior to the meeting, Council Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Kevin Kearney said he supports the proposal, noting the homecoming beer tent and a Labor Day Parade event with beer in a cordoned area of the park had worked in recent years.
“We’ve been able to watch for any potential problems at events,” he said. “And we’ve worked at getting safeguards into this as well.”
Finance Committee Chairman Paul Barker, who expressed reservations about the proposal last year, said he is supporting it.
“I wanted to see how homecoming went and it went OK,” he said. “as long as we have the events monitored, I think we can try something like this