Vendors weigh in on allowing alcohol in some city parks

The city council heard from those for and against a proposal to allow alcohol in some city parks at a public hearing Monday afternoon.  The city says it could help prevent another tax increase.  Private vendors say it's not fair for the city to compete with them.

The Director of Lincoln Parks and Recreation, Lynn Johnson, proposed to allow alcohol in some city parks, including the Pinewood Bowl in Pioneers and the Auld Pavilion in Antelope.   “We get a lot of interest for wedding receptions and those sorts of activities. And the question is, 'Can we serve alcohol?' and the answer right now is 'no.'”

It's in an effort to increase activity and generate revenue while the city works through a large budget shortfall.  Johnson asks, “Do we want to use property taxes to off set the city facilities or should we let those city facilities generate enough revenue that we don't have to use property taxes?”

Several private businesses spoke up in opposition. The Holiday Inn says each year for the last few years, they've seen a 30% loss in revenue because more competing wedding vendors.  Troy Terwilliger, Director of Sales, says if the city competes, too, it will be like biting the hand that feeds them.  “I understand revenue is short, but for them to look at it and say, 'Okay, we're going to fill the revenue gap by attacking the businesses that support us or support the city of Lincoln.'  We pay taxes to the city of Lincoln and now that we're going to be in competition with them, we just don't feel that's right.”

If city council votes to allow alcohol in those specific locations, Parks and Recreation says the sales could result in a yearly $11,000 revenue.  That would be enough to pay two park laborers.