The city should vote next week on a clear set of policies and procedures for the sale of alcohol at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and other city-owned facilities.
City staff outlined guidelines for alcohol sales to the City Council during a work session Monday night. Council members instructed City Manager Mary M. Corriveau to draw up the policies so they can vote on them at their meeting next Tuesday.
For months, the city has been working on the policies since finding out it was not following state regulations for beer sales at Watertown Wizards baseball games and summer concerts at the fairgrounds. As a result, the council hired consultant Anthony J. Casale former chairman of the state Liquor Authority and CEO of the states Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to help draw up new ones.
This isnt going to be business as usual, Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr. said.
According to one of the biggest changes, the Wizards will no longer be able to go to the state Liquor Authority and get individual beer permits for each game held at the fairgrounds. Instead, the team must obtain a seasonal license.
Todd Kirkey, one of the teams new owners, said Tuesday that the team has begun working on getting its state beer license, a process that could take up to six months. The owners also have to wait until the City Council approves the policy next week before they can sign a lease with the city for use of the ballpark.
Council members stressed the importance of letting only the Wizards sell beer or wine under the teams license if theteam arranges for another organization to hold a concert or special event in the ballpark.
The policy also spells out beer sales for county fair week, concerts and special events held in the Jefferson County Agricultural Society Building and the fairgrounds ice arena. The city will no longer receive a 10 percent share in alcohol sales, as was the case for years.
Council members were pleased the document specifies that nonprofit organizations must follow state regulations prohibiting the splitting of proceeds from alcohol sales with private entities, as had occurred for years. Nonprofits may split proceeds only with other nonprofit organizations.
On Tuesday, Joseph L. Rich, a Disabled Persons Action Organization board member and volunteer, said he is still trying to sort out how the new policies will affect the DPAOs July 6 Blake Shelton concert at the fairgrounds.
He noted that the country stars performance will be held at a different location at the fairgrounds than previous DPAO concerts, so its causing some confusion. This time, it will be on a playing field closer to the Black River and not at the ballpark where the Wizards play, he said.
We have to spend a lot of money to bring in these artists, so I would hope that we would able to share in the proceeds from alcohol sales, he said.
But Mrs. Corriveau said the DPAO, which has presented big-name concerts at the fairgrounds for years, can have the Watertown Town Fire Department, another nonprofit organization, handle its beer sales for that show. DPAO can also share in the proceeds, she said.
Mrs. Corriveau has also put together guidelines to consider when the city reviews alcohol sales permit applications.
Despite the tough policy, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said he still isnt sure that beer mixes well with events at which both adults and children attend in city-owned facilities.
Im not sure theres a big change in the way were doing business, he said.
Last summer, Mr. Graham and other council members voiced concerns about beer sales at fairgrounds events after some concertgoers misbehaved at the DPAOs Tragically Hip concert June 24 and after they learned the Wizards had exclusive rights to sell beer through an agreement with the much-maligned city Parks and Recreation Department. The beer sales issue came up after council members discovered that the two-person Parks Department was in disarray.