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Parks and recreation board mulls expanding alcohol sales in Longview

By Jimmy Isaac
Nov. 28, 2011 at 10 p.m.

Alcohol in certain local parks and planning for a 10,000-square-foot memorial splash pad are among items Parks and Recreation Advisory board members are juggling.

In their final meeting of the year on Monday, board members touched mostly on two issues: the possibility of allowing permitted alcohol usage at Hinsley and Teague parks, and construction and fundraising for the Jack Mann Splash Pad.

The pad, slated to open by summer, is named for the late president of Made-Rite Co., a bottling company recognized for its varied support of Longview recreation.

Community Services Director Laura Hill is asking city council members to purchase equipment for features to complete Phase I construction of the splash pad. Other items such as canopies and pavilions will be part of Phase II work, for which organizers continue to raise funds, according to Les Rickett, chairman of both the advisory board and fundraising efforts for the pad. Plumbing work during Phase I will allow for new features to be added to the pad easily in the future, said Parks Operations and Maintenance Manager Ray Bostick.

"We want to be sure that everyone has an opportunity to help make the splash pad happen, and that could be through the purchase of a brick (at the pad) with a personal message," said Community Services Coordinator Dietrich Johnson.

Fundraising efforts have left little time to make phone calls and gather information about expanding permitted alcohol usage to other Longview parks, Rickett said. He and board member Rhonda Bullard plan to contact city council members about allowing usage - with city and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission permits only - at Hinsley and Teague parks. Hill said those are the only two parks that could be appropriate for alcohol use, because other parks are too close to neighborhoods, schools and churches.

In response to a request from the Longview Chamber of Commerce, the city council voted in September to allow alcohol consumption or sales at Heritage Plaza downtown. Council members also asked Parks and Recreation advisory board members to form criteria that would govern which city parks could be considered for similar changes.

Longview Symphony Orchestra has already expressed interest in serving alcohol at its events at Teague Park, Rickett said. He added that board members should more closely examine other cities and how they approach alcohol use at their parks.



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