PALMETTO -- Not this year, says the Palmetto City Commission to sales of alcohol at the 4th of July celebration at Sutton Park. A vote of 2 to 2 stopped the issue from continuing to the July 2 meeting as planned. The stalemate followed Commissioner Alan Zirkelbach's absence. Citizens and concerned groups offered advice and assistance that informed the commission of the responsibilities and training needed to pull it off, but to no avail.
Sharon Kramer and Rita Chamberlain from Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, brought an abundance of information, wisdom and recommendations to Monday night's meeting, so much that the question of whether any vender would be selling alcohol at this year's 4th of July event was moot.
They first reminded the commission that alcohol is the number one abused drug, and that festivals are part of the community and culture. They explained, to consider allowing sales of it in the park, many things needed to be considered if it was to be done responsibly. Kramer said, "Training servers, educating them to the best practices is essential."
Chamberlain said, if the commission later decides to craft an ordinance, they welcome the opportunity to help. Both Chamberlain and Kramer offered to assist in training and presented the commission two ID scanners that could assist in checking for under-aged customers.
Citizens Deloris Thires and Cis Paulsen both expressed their concerns to allowing alcohol to be sold on park grounds. Thires said, "The 4th of July is for fun and family," adding, "We don't need alcohol in the park." Paulson said, "We'll be put at risk for lawsuits."
Both Commissioners Varnadore and Cornwell were against the idea from the start, and Commissioners Smith and Williams, along with the Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant wanted to hear all of the possibilities and options before endorsing it, as they suggested they might at previous meetings on the issue. Last week, Commissioner Zirkelbach suggested he too might support the ordinance change, but he was absent, and a 2 to 2 vote to carry the issue into the July 2, meeting would fail, closing the issue.
Commissioner Williams made a motion to continue to discussion on to the July 2 meeting, Smith seconded it and the vote failed with a 2 to 2 tie on Varnadore and Cornwell's dissent.
The only other issue on the agenda was the annexation of the property Volunteers of America-Florida bought to build three duplexes adjacent to City of Palmetto property, but currently within county jurisdiction. The property at 409 20th St. East, is to provide housing for veterans, elderly and homes for low income residents. The property is also without sewer services. The item was continued and goes before the commission July 2, 2012.