Alcohol officially allowed in most city parks after Steamboat passes ordinance |

Alcohol officially allowed in most city parks after Steamboat passes ordinance

Alcohol will now be allowed in most city parks after Steamboat Springs City Council passed an ordinance codifying what has long been an unofficial rule. l Steamboat Pilot & Today file photo

Alcohol is now officially allowed in all Steamboat Springs parks, except Stehley and Memorial parks.

Steamboat Springs City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday, Dec. 14, codifying the practice with all council members, except Heather Sloop, voting in favor.

Sloop told her colleagues she planned to vote against the ordinance because allowing alcohol in parks would send the wrong message to the community.

“I think parks are sacred in a sense that kids go to play there — parks are made specifically for kids,” Sloop said. “Most people that use parks are youth, who legally are not allowed to drink, and I don’t think this is conveying the right message to those individuals, and (it’s) giving their parents the freedom to possibly excessively use alcohol.”

In an effort to reach a compromise, council voted in November to remove Stehley and Memorial parks from the ordinance, as both are close to schools and used heavily by children.

“If someone wants to take their dog out and have a cocktail, I don’t think that’s a travesty, but I do have a problem with the ones closer to the schools,” said council member Michael Buccino.

While having alcohol at public parks was technically an infraction, Steamboat Springs Police Department Interim Chief Jerry Stabile said the department rarely cited people for drinking at parks unless they were causing other problems.

“Our community likes their bar atmospheres,” Stabile said. “We don’t get a lot of remote, spontaneous parties at parks.”

Council first took up the ordinance in an effort to help restaurants, which have struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sell their products in creative ways.

“Enabling businesses to have additional sales if they can’t seat these patrons because they don’t have enough staff is helpful,” Steamboat Springs Chamber Executive Director Kara Stoller told council members.

While most council members agreed, Sloop said she felt like City Council was solving a problem that does not exist.

“I am in full support of having this for restaurants and having the public benefit in areas that are not parks,” Sloop said. “I’m just not really in support of doing something, at this point, where there really isn’t a problem to solve.”

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