Seeing no other viable alternative, the Oakdale City Council at its Tuesday, Sept. 3 meeting voted unanimously, some members voicing their hesitations, to proceed with a two-year reviewable ordinance banning alcohol in city parks.
The ordinance would not affect Kerr Park and would provide for a simple permitting process to allow alcohol for individuals wishing to have gatherings at parks.
The ordinance, once finalized, is expected to go into effect Nov. 30.
The move comes after months, if not over a year, of hearing complaints from residents and business owners about conditions left behind by what were described as “day drinkers” and “street people.”
“There are very few ‘homeless’ in Oakdale,” Mayor Pat Paul said, delineating the difference from those without homes due to tragic circumstances and the subjects who were the focus of the proposed ordinance. “These people have places to go but choose to do their drinking in the parks.”
The subject of the park drinking ban divided residents who did not want the many to be punished for the bad acts of a few and those frustrated with the perception of the parks being taken over by “drunkards” and “druggies.”
When presenting the proposal, City Manager Bryan Whitemyer complimented the Public Health and Safety Ad Hoc Committee that consisted of Councilman Tom Dunlop, Councilman Don Petersen, Pamela Kelly, Phil Kelly, Jonyce O’Neill, and Police Chief Lester Jenkins that assisted with developing the ordinance.
Public comments had points and counterpoints as those addressing the council spoke against or in support of the ban.
For the entire story, read the Sept. 11 edition of The Leader.