The commission that oversees East Baton Rouge Parish parks approved a policy Thursday that will govern the sale of alcohol at its facilities.
But before the beer and wine flow, the Metro Council will have to change a parish ordinance that generally prohibits the possession of alcohol at most BREC facilities.
That item will come before the Metro Council for introduction March 13 and will be considered for final approval March 27, BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said Thursday night.
“This is not really a decision for the commission,” she said. “The Metro Council will have to make the decision.”
But McKnight said she wanted to bring the matter to the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission before it went to the Metro Council.
Commission member Lloyd Benson moved to defer the item for one month, saying he was concerned about the impact alcohol sales could have on youth using BREC facilities.
Benson said he wasn’t “totally opposed” to the policy, but he wanted to see more details about how it would be put into practice.
Benson’s motion was seconded by John Taylor. Taylor said he wanted to learn more about the proposal.
“It’s like ‘let’s pass it and we will learn the details later,’ ” Taylor said. “I am not comfortable with it yet.”
However, Benson’s motion failed.
McKnight told Benson that the details would be worked out when the staff at each BREC site create an Alcohol Compliance and Managment Plan listing procedures to govern alcohol sales at that site.
Those plans would have to be vetted and approved by McKnight who, after commission members suggested it, agreed to solicit input from BREC’s committees on
the implementation of the policy.
McKnight and Baton Rouge Zoo Director Phil Frost, who presented the plan at the Thursday meeting, repeatedly assured commission members that they were committed to proceeding cautiously with alcohol sales.
There will be no hard liquor sold, McKnight said.
“There will be nothing beyond wine, maybe champagne,” she said.
Frost said caution was a guiding principle in developing the policy, a process that lasted nine months.
“We moved with much caution, knowing we were here to serve the public,” he said. “The plans must include a full detail of how we make sure alcohol does not get in the hands of minors,” he said.
The plans will also address security, signage and where on each site alcohol could be consumed, Frost said.
“It’s going to be based on what’s best for that neighborhood, that area, that facility,” he said.
In preparing the policy, Frost said BREC administrators met with Metro Council members, representatives from the mayor’s office, the parish attorney, the parish Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, and consulted with other park systems.
Under the proposed policy, alcohol could be sold at all BREC golf courses except for J.S. Clark, where BREC hosts a junior golf program. Other sites where alcohol would be sold include: the Baton Rouge Gallery, the Baton Rouge Zoo, Bluebonnet Nature Center, the Burbank Soccer Complex, the Central Community Sports Park, several tennis centers and Olympia Stadium during certain events.
Alcohol sales would be prohibited at Liberty Lagoon water park and all pools, according to the policy.