Brainerd council calls special meeting to revisit alcohol in city parks

The meeting comes after council members rejected a proposed ordinance addressing the issue last week.

Memorial Park in Brainerd.
Adult softball Thursday, May 18, at Memorial Park in northeast Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — With summer softball in full swing, Brainerd City Council members will meet in a special session Wednesday, May 24, to discuss the city’s policy on alcohol in parks.

Council members struck down an ordinance revision last week that would have allowed visitors to about half the city’s parks to bring in and consume alcohol during events like adult softball games in Memorial Park.

The move would have been a departure from the current code, which allows baseball organizations and concession stand vendors to sell alcohol in only Memorial Park, though prohibits outside beverages to be brought in. The code language is not crystal clear, city officials say, nor is it enforced.

Recognizing alcohol consumption outside of what’s allowed in city code already happens in parks like Memorial and Lum with little or no consequences, council and parks board members wanted to see what updated guidelines might look like.

The proposed ordinance in front of council members May 15 would have allowed nonprofits to obtain temporary on-sale liquor licenses in conjunction with scheduled non-youth events at all city parks except for Bane, Buster, Gustafson, Hitch-Wayne, Meadows, Mississippi River Landing, O’Brien, Trailside and Triangle.


Furthermore, park visitors would have been able to consume outside beverages in all but Buster, Gustafson, Hitch-Wayne, Mississippi River Landing, Trailside and Triangle parks.

While a caveat in the ordinance prohibited the sale of alcohol at youth events, it did not make any provisions for consuming outside alcoholic beverages during organized youth events, leading four of the seven council members to vote against the measure.

Instead of waiting until the next regular council meeting June 5, staff will bring a revised ordinance back to the council Wednesday, prohibiting any alcohol at scheduled youth events in the park and specifically allowing consumption as a part of campsite rentals at Lum Park Campground.

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If council members approve the first reading Wednesday, the ordinance will go on to a public hearing June 5, after which council members could give final consent.

Wednesday’s meeting is at 6 p.m. at Brainerd City Hall.

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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