Esky council adjusts alcohol policy

ESCANABA – Escanaba’s special events policy for alcohol in public places underwent some changes by council Thursday including longer serving times and a bigger beer cup.

On May 20, 2010, Escanaba City Council unanimously adopted a policy on alcohol being served at special events on public property. Each year, administrators review the policy to make sure it’s working and is in line with state regulations, explained City Manager Jim O’Toole.

“The policy consists of a range of requirements designed to reduce alcohol-related problems and to increase the enjoyment of those who attend a community event,” said O’Toole.

The document undergoes an annual review “so we’re all on the same page,” he said, noting the policy review also helps ensure the rules work for the event organizers as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

“The continued review of the policy is to ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to safeguard the well-being of all users of city-owned property and the well-being of private property owners located near the event,” O’Toole stated in a memorandum to council members.

In addition to the city manager, Escanaba Public Safety Director Ken Vanderlinden was among those who recently reviewed the public policy.

“We’ve had zero issues in regards to enforcement of the alcohol in public places special events policy,” Vanderlinden commented after Thursday’s meeting.

The police chief added he doesn’t foresee any additional enforcement needs with the changes approved by council. Typically, officers do not man the special events but they will patrol the area, he said.

Adjustments to the city’s alcohol in public places policy include an increase in the special event “beer tent” area from 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet.

Special event hours were extended to 10 p.m. compared to the previous ending time of 8:30 p.m. Alcohol will also be allowed in special event beer tents on national holidays.

Council approved an increase in the allowable cup-serving size from 12 ounces to 16 ounces – the Solo Cup size, said O’Toole. The required “unbreakable” cup was deleted from the policy.

Other deletions made in the rules include the group or organization selling the alcohol must provide food for the event-goers. This was stricken from the policy because there are usually food vendors at special events, noted O’Toole.

The age of those allowed to work in the beer tents, selling and serving alcohol, was lowered from age 21 to 18 years as allowed by the Liquor Control Commission, he said.

O’Toole also noted to council members that city administrators can place special requirements on any event if the need arises, according to the policy.

Groups seeking to have alcohol available at special events in public places, such as Ludington Park, must fill out an application with the city which charges a $50 fee and a $1,000 security deposit.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,