Council member Larry Fotovich doesn’t want to be a wet blanket, but a letter city council members received from Nancy Faulkner, Gardner, had some good points about granting a waiver of distance to sell beer within 200 feet of a school, church and library during the Festival on the Trails.
“I do not believe a family event requires alcohol be sold within 200 feet of a school church or library,” Faulkner wrote in a letter to council. “…Why do we have this ordinance if we continue to waive it?”
She also mentioned the council’s approval that allowed Blazer Burger to sell 3.2 beer in close proximity to the same places.
Alcohol has been sold downtown in a beer garden since the inception of the Festival on the Trails in 2007. The beer garden will be moved this year, however, closer to the Presbyterian Church, the Gardner branch of the Johnson County Library and Gardner Elementary School.
Faulkner works at Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Center and wrote that alcohol-related accidents aren’t uncommon sources of head injuries. She wrote she did not believe the risk was worth selling alcohol.
Police Captain Jim Moore said there has never been a public safety incidence in a Festival on the Trails beer garden. There will be 40 officers patrolling the Festival in addition to officers patrolling the rest of Gardner.
Tom Mertz, festival committee member, went one step further. He said if council members wanted to take risk out of the event, they should shutter the activities for kids.
“All of our accidents have happened in the kids’ zones,” Mertz said.
Fotovich voted against allowing the beer sales at the festival, but said he’s not a prude.
“Why do we have these laws if we can waiver them?” he asked. “I don’t want to throw a wet blanket on the party, but (Faulkner) made some great points.”
The Festival on the Trails is set for noon to 11 p.m. on June 9 in downtown Gardner. The kids events will run until 5 p.m. at which time the beer garden will open and musical acts will begin to take the stage.