City takes step to allow alcohol at park events

HARLINGEN —Prohibition at major city parks is likely to end — under certain conditions.

Last night, city commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow alcohol sales and consumption at nonprofit and city-sponsored events at Dixieland Park, Victor Park, Pendleton Park, Rangerville Park, the Wilson Sports Complex and the Harlingen Soccer Complex.

Already, the city allows the sale and consumption of alcohol at nonprofit and city-sponsored events at Lon C. Hill Park, McKelvey Park, Gutierrez Park and the HEB tennis courts at Pendleton Park.

Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, said organizations planning to hold events at parks need to have insurance and non-profit status or a city sponsorship.

Organizations’ requests led him to propose expanding the number of parks allowing alcohol sales and consumption, Mendez said.

“We haven’t allowed the sale of alcohol in these other parks (but) we’ve had requests,” Mendez told commissioners. “When people approached us, we said we can’t do it and they went to other communities.”

Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn asked officials to consider expanding the list to include the city’s smaller parks.

But City Manager Dan Serna said some parks are too small to accommodate events.

Commissioner Victor Leal said the city should limit its list to larger parks.

“These parks offer venues where nonprofits can hold events,” Leal said of the city’s larger parks. “Some parks don’t lend themselves to good opportunities for fundraisers.”