The San Marcos City Council this evening approved a sweeping package of new parks rules including a ban on the consumption and display of alcohol.
The measures were adopted 4-2 with council members Ryan Thomason and Shane Scott voting against the rules. Jude Prather, who led opposition to the alcohol ban, was out of town for professional training. Mayor Daniel Guerrero and council members John Thomaides, Kim Porterfield and Wayne Becak voted to approve.
Before passing the rules, council members amended the ordinance to require law enforcement officers to issue a verbal warning before writing a citation or making arrests for violating the alcohol prohibition. The council also voted to delay implementing the alcohol related portion of the ordinance until January 1, 2013, giving officials time to educate the public about the rules and the public one last summer of legal drinking in all the city’s parks and natural areas.
Police Chief Howard Williams told council members he did not intend to enforce the alcohol ban against parkgoers who are peacefully minding their own business. The council has to trust law enforcement to enforce the ordinance with a light touch, he said.
“Banning all alcohol in all parks is not a reasonable solution, in my personal opinion, to the problems we have,” Williams said.
The rules were formally supported by the San Marcos River Foundation and the Lions Club and opposed by Texas State University’s Associated Student Government. More than 1,100 people signed a petition against the alcohol ban circulated by activist Monica De La Rosa.
The new rules make these changes:
- Makes the consumption or display of alcoholic beverages on park land prohibited. Provides for access and egress to the river with a “no open container” rule;
- Includes refined definitions for the codes;
- Makes provisions of all park codes apply in Natural areas and Green Spaces owned by the city;
- Includes disruptive conduct provisions for programs approved by the department operating on city parks areas;
- Increases the minimum fine amount for littering in the San Marcos River;
- Prohibits smoking and tobacco products in play areas and athletic fields;
- Clears up miscellaneous provisions on posting of temporary restrictions;
- Authorizes the Park Director to establish rules for use of BBQ pits
- Prohibits the use of Styrofoam materials in the parks and river;
- Adds the possession of certain fishing spears and gigs and allows parks programming exemptions;
- Prohibits the possession of alcohol on any dam owned by the city;
- Requires the securing of lids and covers to containers in the San Marcos River