City Council Meeting 02/21/2012
The Carbondale City Council and the Liquor Control Commission met Tuesday, February 21 at city hall. I watched from home on Mediacom channel 16.
The Liquor Control Commission met at 7:00 with two major items on the agenda – an application for a beer garden for Sports Blast (behind the mall) and transfer of a liquor license to the new owners of the Newell House. The transfer of a liquor license for Newell House was approved unanimously.
What should have been a simple approval for the Sports Blast beer garden became more complicated than necessary, as is customary at city council meetings. In the first vote, the application was denied over concerns about amplified music. Commissioners Monty, Adams, and Fritzler voted against the beer garden, while Commissioners Fronabarger, Wissmann, and McDaniel voted in favor.
This meant the approval failed for lack of a majority. Council member Lance Jack owns Fat Patties, which has a liquor license, and does not sit on the Liquor Control Commission.
The owner of Sports Blast then agreed to conditions limiting his ability to play amplified music – conditions which burden no other beer garden in Carbondale – and his application was approved unanimously on a second vote.
Liquor Commissioner Monty raised the concerns about noise from a beer garden and justified the imposition of conditions by claiming the other Carbondale beer gardens are in the core of town, while Sports Blast is closer to residential developments. I checked Google Maps and it appears to me that Hangar 9’s beer garden is at least a little closer to residential areas than Sports Blast, which undermines that justification.
I think the commission did the wrong thing here. I would have voted to approve the beer garden without unfairly imposing conditions that apply to no other beer gardens in town. I will never understand the strange attitudes toward liquor issues in Carbondale. I realize some will claim this was a noise issue, or a neighborhoods issue, but make no mistake: it’s a liquor issue.
The Liquor Commission adjourned and the City Council meeting began at approximately 7:40. The consent agenda was approved unanimously, as was the resolution authorizing submission of an application for grant funds to support the CDAP housing rehabilitation program. The council then turned to discussion of Mayor Fritzler’s proposal to cut $120,000 from the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau’s budget and distribute the money to other organizations.
The council heard detailed proposals from organizations including Carbondale Main Street, Carbondale Community Arts, and the Chamber of Commerce on how they would use the additional funds. Ideas included improved landscaping in the downtown, addition of murals outside the Amtrak station, development of a smart phone app promoting downtown Carbondale, support for the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and marketing Carbondale to SIUC alumni.
CCTB Executive Director Debbie Moore again defended the agency and took questions from council members. CCTB board members and hotel owners and managers again spoke in defense of CCTB.
Council eventually directed city staff to cut $50k from the CCTB budget. The cut will be reallocated as follows: Carbondale Community Arts – $5k, Carbondale Main Street – $15k, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce – $10k, Buckminster Fuller Dome NFP – $10k, Carbondale Park District – $10k (this year, with more likely to follow). Council also earmarked $8k of the funds it will allocate to CCTB – $3k for the Lion’s Club Fourth of July fireworks and $5k for the Lights Fantastic parade.
It’s hard to score this as a win or a loss for anyone. Of Fritzler’s original proposal for a $120k cut, which I supported, only $50k was ultimately cut. I can’t score that as a victory for Fritzler. On the other hand, CCTB didn’t want to have any funds cut from its allocation. It lost $50k, so I can’t score it as a victory for CCTB. And I wouldn’t call it a win/win compromise either. I’ll score it a draw.
After a lengthy set of citizen’s comments, council entered closed session to discuss personnel matters.
Comments are welcome.
UPDATE: Due to technical issues, an earlier version of this post was published this morning by mistake. I caught the error at 7:48 and corrected it by 7:51. Email and RSS subscribers may have gotten the earlier, incorrect version. I apologize for the error.