Alcohol in park questions already?

HARLINGEN — Even after lifting prohibition at most city parks, the city plans to keep tight control over alcohol there.

City commissioners have approved an ordinance allowing 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.

The city already allowed 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. But the new ordinance left some residents confused, said Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, after a meeting Wednesday.

Mendez said some residents are calling city offices concerned the ordinance opens the parks to widespread alcohol use. But Mendez said the city will keep tight restrictions on alcohol at the parks.

“When we have events, we’ll shut it down and take over the entire park,” Mendez said. “It’s just for special events that the city sponsors and it has to be nonprofit.”

Mendez said the new ordinance likely will lead to more events at city parks.

The old ordinance banning alcohol led some organizations to move their events to other cities, Mendez said.

Mendez said the new ordinance might lead the city to move major events such as Blues on the Hill and Freedom Fest to new city venues.