City considers allowing alcohol in the parks

The Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is considering whether to change the city policy that prohibits alcohol in the city’s parks.

Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Director Jay Hutchison said the discussion most recently came up after the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation requested to serve alcohol at its annual Party for the Lakes at Edgewater Park.

Under the current policy, this is not allowed. The city allows alcohol to be served by permit only at Snyder Field, the Albert Lea Armory and City Arena, but at all other parks it is prohibited.

Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels said when the ordinance was originally written it was made to crack down on the large alcohol parties in the 1970s and ’80s in city parks.

Since then, those large parties have gone by the wayside, and now people are having smaller gatherings, Winkels said. The ordinance is not practical and it does not meet with the current uses of the parks, he noted.

“Prohibition doesn’t work,” he said. “It’s not realistic.”

He said police currently only get involved at a park if something gets out of hand.

The city somehow needs to find a balance that will encourage people to use the parks but at the same time have an environment that is conducive for families with children, Winkels said.

The Albert Lea City Council directed the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to review the policy, and out of the discussion has come several options, including opening up all the parks for alcohol use, opening up only certain parks for alcohol use, requiring people to have a permit for an event at a park where alcohol is served, limiting the amount of alcohol that is brought into a park, or requiring that there be no intoxication in the parks, among others.

Hutchison said Rochester allows alcohol to be in the parks but limits the amount that can be brought in.

The concern is implementing an ordinance that won’t be abused, added Advisory Board Chairman Tom Sorenson. The key is keeping the events that come to the parks to just a social drinking situation and not allowing them to escalate to a party level.

“We’ve definitely thought this through and want to make it more of a social policy and not a policy that could contribute to problems,” Sorenson said.

The Advisory Board will next meet at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18 for further discussion on the issue.

At that time they could vote whether to recommend changes in the policy to the City Council or hold on to the matter for further review.

SportsPlus

Cops, Courts & Fires

Tires reported slashed and other reports

Elections & Campaigns

As Vance makes vice president debut, his appeal in upper Midwest is source of debate

Elections & Campaigns

Prominent Democrat Schiff calls for Biden to withdraw: Democrats aim to nominate before convention

News

Two local athletes to compete in weekend MMA event at Diamond Jo

Arts & Culture

Albert Lea Civic Music announces season lineup

Cops, Courts & Fires

Man charged with pulling knife during altercation at convenience store

News

Guest column: Championing health for area’s veterans

Cops, Courts & Fires

Man accused of holding girlfriend captive in dorm room reaches deal

Health Updates

Mayo Clinic Health System hospitals receive national recognition by U.S. News & World Report

News

Public comment sought for Alliant Wind Interstate Wind Project Habitat Conservation Plan

Cops, Courts & Fires

Minnesota’s ban on gun carry permits for young adults is unconstitutional, appeals court rules

News

UnitedHealth sticks to 2024 outlook despite high costs from cyberattack

Cops, Courts & Fires

Court dispositions: Feb. 27-March 7, 2024

News

SMIF seeking applications for Small Town Grants

Cops, Courts & Fires

What is known and not known about the attempt on Trump’s life and its aftermath

Cops, Courts & Fires

Man reportedly pulls knife on gas station employee and other reports

Gallery

St. Paul native Joe Mauer will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Education

Policies at center of Albert Lea school board meeting

News

5 things to do this week: Car show, tractor ride, art and garden tour and more

Education

Albert Lea finance director to retire in December

Cops, Courts & Fires

Guilty plea in Freeborn County online child solicitation case

News

Freeborn County Relay For Life expands with Mower and Waseca counties joining

Elections & Campaigns

Trump announces Vance as VP pick

Cops, Courts & Fires

1 arrested for possession, warrant and other reports