Proposed Booze Ban in Downtown Parks Supported
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission gave unanimous support for the creation of a new ordinance to prevent drinking alcohol in downtown parks. The ordinance would affect Paquin, Flat Branch, and North Village Parks. Police say they have received a large number of citizen complaints about drunk individuals in those parks.
Columbia Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said the ordinance would be tailored to avoid collateral damage.
"I don't think that we're talking about people having a picnic lunch with some sandwiches, cheese, crackers, and a bottle of wine...We are talking about possible misuse of our parks," Hood said.
Currently, there are no restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in Columbia parks. Columbia police captain Dianne Bernhard said homeless individuals use the parks to avoid the downtown ban on open containers.
"We have a group of people who will go to these parks to avoid the open container ordinance and in the parks right now it's legal to drink the alcohol, so it actually draws people in to these particular parks," said Bernhard.
Bernhard added, "We are looking towards long term problem solving instead of just fixing individual instances."