Columbia City Councilwoman Wants to Ban Alcohol in Parks

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COLUMBIA - Columbia City Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick told KOMU 8 News Friday she wants to limit or ban alcohol consumption in city parks. Missouri leaves public drinking ordinances up to cities to enact. Current Columbia city code only prohibits alcohol on sidewalks, streets, parking lots and a select few parks. The state does prohibit open containers for drivers of vehicles. 

"Our city parks should be a place where the entire community can come together and socialize," Chadwick said. "A place where our families can enjoy healthy outdoor activities. When a public park is perpetually being used for alcohol consumption, I begin to question if our goal is being met."

Some members of the black community say Douglass Park is being unfairly singled out by the council because of the number of black people that go to the park.

"Douglass park was being singled out as the problem park of the city system," Columbia blogger Carl Kenney said. "Her constituents were being very racist and marginalizing them as trouble makers within the park system."

Chadwick said in a statement that her concern is "not specific to Douglass Park," but that "Douglass has my attention because it's my neighborhood park where I go to with my children."

Kenney said race is the single biggest factor behind the movement.

"I think the conversation behind banning Douglass park has always been about the fact that the people who come here are black, and they're stereotyped as being a criminal. They're stereotyped as being an alcoholic, a troublemaker because of that."

Chadwick pointed out that two parks in her ward, Paquin Park and Flat Branch Park, are already alcohol free. The entire city council would have to pass a vote to change the city's park alcohol policy.