Government

Cedar Rapids City Council bans alcohol in Greene Square

Signs going up, enforcement begins Friday

Cedar Rapids police officers talk to people in Greene Square in May in Cedar Rapids. The City Council on Tuesday banned alcohol in the park, as of Friday, part of the city’s strategy to calm rowdy behavior there. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids police officers talk to people in Greene Square in May in Cedar Rapids. The City Council on Tuesday banned alcohol in the park, as of Friday, part of the city’s strategy to calm rowdy behavior there. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

 

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids City Council decided Tuesday to ban alcohol in Greene Square.

The council passed the ordinance unanimously.

Signs will be put in place, and enforcement of the ban will begin Friday at the downtown park, according to the City Manager’s Office.

The ordinance allows people to apply for a permit to have alcohol in the park for events, but the person holding the permit must be present when alcohol is “consumed, dispensed or possessed” in the park.

State law prohibits consumption of hard alcohol in parks, but Cedar Rapids permits beer consumption — in containers up to a quart in size — in most parks. There is a permitting process for kegs and other drinks for special events.

Council member Dale Todd, whose district includes Greene Square and who pushed for the alcohol ban, told The Gazette he does not foresee the council banning alcohol in other city parks.

“We know that it’s not going to solve all the problems, but signage (and) enforcement of other ordinances will help remind people that this is a city park, and we would appreciate it if you act within the boundaries of our laws,” Todd said.

Cedar Rapids police have recorded an uptick in the number of dispatched calls to the park this year compared to last year, but a decline in the incidents involving alcohol. In 2017, police responded to 29 calls at the park between Jan. 1 and June 30. This year, police were dispatched 57 times in the same time period.

Of those incidents, 12 involved alcohol in 2017; eight involved alcohol this year.

The ban comes after Cedar Rapids police arrested Troy Lee Wilson, 47, in connection with the death of Scott Dexter, 38, of Cedar Rapids, who was found injured and unconscious in the park June 5. Dexter died from his injuries June 9. Wilson was charged July 3 in Linn County District Court with second-degree murder.

Police have increased foot patrols at the park, and city officials are considering the addition of security cameras there.

The addition of a downtown beat officer also is being explored, according to a memo Todd sent to council members.

The memo also states work is being done with Cedar Rapids Public Library staff to provide additional programming in the park, including the “Just Be a Kid in Greene Square” promotion this month.

“We know that removing alcohol from the park is not the cure-all, but it’s part of a comprehensive strategy,” Todd said. “Some of it, you’ll hear us talk about. Some of it, you probably won’t, but I can assure you that we have numerous elements that will be in play.”

rezoning, HUBBARD

The council gave preliminary approval to the rezoning of the 1800 block of Ellis Boulevard NW for six two-story duplexes. The rezoning goes through two more readings before being final.

Zoning coordinator Dave Houg said the 27 condos will go on undeveloped land the city acquired after the 2008 flood. The project is not in the path of future flood control, he said.

“This is a wonderful example of bringing people back into the Ellis neighborhood,” council member Ann Poe said.

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The council also awarded a $389,900 contract to D.W. Zinser Company for demolition of the former Hubbard Ice complex at 1124 First St. NW to make way for the city’s future flood control system.

l Comments: (319) 398-8332; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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