Left to right: San Marcos Fire Marshal Ken Bell, San Marcos Neighborhood Commission (SMNC) Chair Elena Duran, SMNC Member Griffin Spell, and SMNC Vice Chair Bob Mooney at a July 20 meeting. Photo by Sean Batura
The San Marcos Neighborhood Commission (SMNC) on Wednesday opted to postpone a recommendation to the city council regarding alcohol use in public parks.
SMNC members said they will issue a recommendation on the matter after the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) proposes changes to public park rules. PRAB is expected to recommend changes to park rules at its July 26 meeting.
On June 18, PRAB members unanimously recommended that alcohol use be further restricted in city parks, though they may issue further recommendations at their July 26 meeting, said San Marcos Fire Marshal Ken Bell.
“There’s no rush, this has been discussed for five years,” Bell said.
Bell said changes to the city’s alcohol policy in parks would likely not go into effect until next summer if the city council approves increased restrictions.
The city council has not yet taken an official position on the matter, though in the last two months, only Councilmembers Fred Terry, Jude Prather, and Chris Jones expressed opposition to increased restrictions on alcohol.
When the city council, on July 5, discussed the prospect of increasing legal restrictions on public smoking, Terry, reading from a prepared statement, lashed out at what he said was a dual effort to unduly restrict personal liberty.
“Currently there are also talks of banning alcohol in the city parks, despite the fact that picnics in our parks provide a fun, safe, and affordable source of entertainment for our citizens,” Terry said. “Why we would want to regulate this is beyond me.”
Terry implied the city is not properly enforcing current laws related to alcohol in parks.
Bell told councilmembers and SMNC members that 100 percent of arrests at city parks patrolled by his rangers since 1996 have involved alcohol. Bell said he could cut his ranger force in half if the display and use of alcohol were restricted further in parks.
In a related vein, the city council recently asked the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission (TABC) to prohibit open containers of alcohol and alcohol consumption in the downtown area at night during specified hours. The TABC is set to vote on the order in July. San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said too many people are drinking alcohol outside on the Courthouse Square at night without adequate supervision, though he said the situation is not out of hand and is manageable.
“We want to see more people come to our downtown, we want to see more people feel safe coming down to our river and our parks,” said San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero last month. “We want to be able to promote San Marcos as a family destination.”Email | Print