Iowa City Council getting pushback on allowing alcohol in park shelters

Final vote set for 7 p.m. Tuesday

City Hall is shown in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
City Hall is shown in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — City staffers are recommending the Iowa City Council defer its final vote on allowing the consumption of beer and wine inside city park shelters.

The council has twice approved the amendment to a city ordinance, but the Partnership for Alcohol Safety, an initiative by the city and the University of Iowa, is recommending “indefinite deferral” of the final vote.

Many of the partnership’s members voiced concerns about the “mixed message” that loosening alcohol restrictions would send to UI students, according to a memo to the council from Simon Andrew, assistant city manager.

The council is scheduled to consider the issue at its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, 410 E. Washington St.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation often receives requests from those wishing to have alcohol at gatherings in the shelters, according to Andrew’s memo, though the amendment was prompted by a request from an Iowa City resident.

Current city code prohibits people from carrying or drinking any alcoholic beverage in a city park unless it’s purchased from a specially authorized entity or site.

However, neighboring cities like Coralville and Cedar Rapids, as well the college cities of Ames and Cedar Falls, all have procedures for allowing alcohol consumption in at least some of their parks.

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The amendment passed its first two readings, 6-1 and 5-1, with council member Rockne Cole voting against the amendment both times and with council member Terry Dickens absent for the second vote.

The proposed amendment would allow possession and consumption of beer and wine in park shelters, when people have a shelter reservation, except for the shelters in Napoleon Park and I.C. Kickers Park.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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