Oak Harbor officials will soon decide whether to allow beer or wine gardens in certain city parks during specific special events.
Councilwoman Tara Hizon proposes lifting the ban on alcohol in parks at the request of residents and event organizers. She pointed out that two beer gardens in the public street at the Oak Harbor Music Festival were popular and the city didn’t experience any problems.
The Oak Harbor Parks Board voted to support Hizon’s idea, and the idea drew more than 120 comments, most of them positive, on the Whidbey News-Times Facebook page at www.facebook.com/whidbeynews
“Festivals with A beer garden happen everywhere,” said one Facebook commenter. “We as a society need to start taking responsibility for our own actions. Our community has more responsible adults than not. These types of festivals can potentially bring in tons of, very needed revenue to this town.”
Hizon’s proposal makes sense to us as well ‚Äî just as long as it comes with the set of conditions she presented.
People still won’t be allowed to bring their own alcohol into the parks. Also, drinking will be confined to roped-off areas during city-approved special events.
The beer gardens would only be allowed at Windjammer, Fort Nugent and Catalina parks under Hizon’s proposal.
Events are supposed to be fun. Many adults enjoy a glass of beer or wine, and that’s fine in moderation.
It’s understandable that the leader of the county’s impaired driving impact panel and others are concerned that lifting the ban will lead to drunk driving. They also expressed concerns that allowing alcohol in parks will send young people the message that alcohol is necessary in order to have fun.
“How will any of you feel if a child gets run over as a slightly tipsy festival-goer pulls out of a parking lot? And then there’s all the other problems in between,” JoAnn Hellmann wrote to council members.
It’s legal to drink alcohol if you’re 21 years old or older. It’s not legal to drink to the point of impairment and then drive. That’s the law.
It’s up to elected officials to find a sensible balance between public safety and permitting individuals to enjoy an alcoholic beverage during a public event.
We think that balance exists in Hizon’s proposal.