Brainerd Council again takes up alcohol in parks after revisions

Another public hearing will take place June 5.

Memorial Park in Brainerd.
People in the adult leagues play softball at Memorial Park in northeast Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — All of three minutes elapsed during the last Brainerd City Council meeting Wednesday, May 24, before the session was over.

Council members called a special meeting to discuss a revised ordinance to allow alcohol sales and consumption in some of the city’s parks. The special meeting came after city officials struck down the last proposal on a 3-4 vote May 15.

As it stands, city code does not allow visitors to Brainerd’s parks to bring in and consume alcohol. Baseball organizations are allowed to sell the beverages during their games at Memorial Park, though spectators are often seen with their own drinks without consequence.

The Lum Park Campground is another area officials say alcohol consumption likely takes place despite city ordinance. Those are a couple of the reasons parks board and council members asked staff to develop guidelines allowing alcohol at certain times in certain parks, without creating a blanket allowance throughout the entire city.

Under the proposal, nonprofits would be able to apply for temporary on-sale liquor licenses for scheduled non-youth events in all but Bane, Buster, Gustafson, Hitch-Wayne, Meadows, Mississippi River Landing, O’Brien, Trailside and Triangle parks.


Furthermore, park visitors would be allowed to bring in and consume their own beverages at any park except for Buster, Gustafson, Hitch-Wayne, Mississippi River Landing, Trailside and Triangle.

The council voted down the ordinance during the last meeting after council member Kara Terry expressed concerns about there being no provision banning people from bringing alcohol to youth events in the park. For that reason, she voted against the measure, along with Jeff Czeczok, Kevin Stunek and Kelly Bevans.

Council members also heard during that meeting from two residents in opposition, saying alcohol already creates enough problems in the community, and people do not need more places to drink.

To address the council’s concerns staff revised the ordinance, banning alcohol consumption from organized youth events and also specifically allowing consumption as a part of campsite rentals at Lum Park Campground.

With the summer softball season already underway at Memorial Park, council members called the special meeting to approve the first reading of the proposed ordinance. No one commented on the changes before giving unanimous 6-0 approval. Council member Gabe Johnson was absent Wednesday.

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

A public hearing on the revisions will take place during the council’s next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 5, at City Hall. After giving members of the public a chance to speak, council members can vote to either approve or deny the ordinance.

In the ordinance

In order for nonprofits to sell alcohol at park events, the organization must have existed for at least three years and apply for a permit with the City Council for the event. The permit must be approved and would be subject to terms set forth by the council, including number of days sales are permitted, areas in which sales could happen and the presence of peace officers to monitor events.

Glass bottles would not be allowed at any time, and event organizers would be required to have liability insurance. Outside beverages would not be allowed at catered events where alcohol is sold.


THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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