Janesville City Council OKs beer in parks
JANESVILLE After a 45-year dry spell, residents can drink in pavilions in four Janesville parks with a $50 permit.
Councilman Matt Kealy at Monday's Janesville City Council meeting urged the change, referring to Janesville's nickname, the City of Parks. The rules should change so more people will use them, he said.
Members opted against requiring background checks for applicants, something suggested by Councilman Sam Liebert.
The council also voted to allow beer sales during regular softball league play at Dawson Ball Fields.
Voting to change the ordinances were Kealy, Kathy Voskuil, Russ Steeber, Jim Farrell and Deb Dongarra-Adams. Voting "no" were DuWayne Severson and Liebert.
Before Monday, beer and wine coolers were allowed at the city's ice arena, on the golf courses, at Rotary Gardens and during tournaments at Dawson.
Steeber initially had supported background checks but decided they could be a waste of time.
"Let people be responsible for themselves," Dongarra Adams agreed. "I had people ask, 'Do they do background checks on city council (members)?' "
In voting "no," Liebert said: "I am the youngest person here. I probably understand the culture of alcoholism in our state." His own life has been impacted by alcoholism and domestic violence, he said.
Severson quoted an email from a resident who said parks should be alcohol-free zones safe for children and families.
"The negative impacts far outweigh the gains," the resident wrote.
Kealy said he would have supported the change even without the so-called "budget enhancement" of $3,000 the park permits raise.
"Janesville is the City of Parks," Kealy said. "But most groups go outside the city because beer is not allowed."
Softball players who spoke at a public hearing said beer sales would attract more teams, and the revenue could go toward field maintenance. Beer sales would bring in at least $5,000, said Shelley Slapak, recreation director.
Todd Pickering, 606 S. Locust St., said he doubts beer sales attract teams. He said the expense of registration fees and cuts in the number of umpires are more likely causes for a recent decline in participants.
"I haven't seen too many cases where a couple of beers makes someone more enjoyable to be around, especially in a competitive situation," Pickering said.
Dustin De Jonghe, 1608 Beloit Ave, disagreed. He noted The Back Bar is starting softball leagues this summer and will serve beer.
"That's going to draw a lot of teams," he said.
Josh Golberg, 4107 N. River Edge Drive, switched a tournament he runs to Dawson last summer because the council allowed beer sales.
The Dawson complex is a phenomenal place to hold tournaments, he said.
Steve Knox, a member of the leisure services committee, said having a beer is a "personal choice. What someone chooses to do within the law is their own business."