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Tipsy on Daytona Beach’s Example, Palm Coast Considers Getting Its Own Liquor License

| February 26, 2013

Palm Coast wants a fuller glass. (c FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast wants a fuller glass. (c FlaglerLive)

Last June’s Palm Coast International Food & Wine Wine Festival in Central Park at Town Center was a bit light on one key ingredient: wine. The city had special wine glasses designed for the event, but precious little nectar of the gods to fill them with.

Beer, wine and even liquor sales and consumption do occur at special events at Central Park, but vendors are required to have their own liquor license.

The Palm Coast City Council is now considering applying for its own liquor license and, in an even more remarkable move, designating Central Park as a civic center. The park is little more than grass, paths of bricks and a pond. If the city secures the license, vendors who cater to events at Central Park would be able to sell alcohol under the city’s umbrella–an ironic turnaround for a city that only a few years ago waged a war of attrition to discourage ABC Liquor from building a store at Palm Coast Parkway and Old Kings Road.

City Manager Jim Landon, who led the battle against ABC, said timing was important because planning is underway for the Rock ‘n’ Rib Fest on April 12 and 13 at Central Park. But the City Council pressed for more information during a lively discussion during a workshop meeting Tuesday morning, so the proposal will be once again scheduled for a future workshop, during which actual votes are not allowed.

Palm Coast’s special events have exceeded the city manager’s expectations. “We’ve done a lot of learning,” Landon said, noting that a previous City Council policy supported events to entertain residents and attract visitors, but to avoid spending tax money for expenses such as safety and cleanup. “The issue of how alcohol is served has been part of the learning curve,” Landon said.

Should the city secure a liquor license, it would create an odd contradiction with its own alcohol and drug policies. But no city employees would be involved in transporting or handling alcohol at special events. Any alcohol not sold and consumed would be taken back by distributors. “We’re not changing the structure of these events,” the city manager said. “The media makes it sound as if we’re turning it into something different.”

Liability would be no different because alcohol is already being sold, the city manager said. In answer to a question, Landon said not-for-profit groups that sell alcohol at events must, under state law, keep the money they earn, which would cut off a chance for the city to recoup expenses to host events. Those expenses for everything from portable potties to police cost in the “tens of thousands of dollars,” the city manager said.

Lisa Gardner, the events coordinator, said under the current system, vendors keep a larger share of proceeds to offset the cost to them of obtaining a liquor license. “We actually don’t get much benefit,” she said. After some discussion, Gardner said the city wants to earn enough money to cover costs and improve events. For example, this year’s Rock ‘n’ Rib Fest will have a barbecue contest with a $5,000 prize. “The next step would be to bring in a professional event. That requires a $20,000 purse.” The benefits would presumably include “bringing people into the community. They stay in our hotels.”

Those comments didn’t sit well with Councilman Jason DeLorenzo, who said events were upscale enough. “I have a family of four,” he said. “I can’t afford to go to the Rock ‘n’ Rib.” DeLorenzo criticized the entire approach to events as “short thinking.”

“We’re not going to hold events there in the future,” he said, referring to Central Park, because some of the land used is private and will be built on in the future. “The real state we use is on private property. This is going to cause a bigger problem down the road.” Landon countered that downtowns embrace special events and he expects businesses built in the area would work with those events.

Other City Council members questioned designating Central Park as a civic center, because “it’s not a building.” City staff members said they would determine if the park qualifies under state rules as a civic center, even though there is no building.

City Councilman Bill Lewis said beer and wine at special events is one thing, but “I have a problem with liquor in the park.” Later in the meeting he added, “You want to turn Central Park into a bar.” But Mayor Jon Netts said liquor is already served at events. “It depends on which tent you go to,” Netts said.

Netts asked for a list of cities and counties that have applied for and been granted a liquor license. Staff members could only mention Daytona Beach and Holly Hill, off the cuff–two cities Palm Coast has strained not to emulate in most ways, public partying included.

The mayor said events play an important role for the city, but he wants to continue to avoid spending taxpayer dollars on event costs. He hopes admission prices would be reduced if the city makes more money from alcohol sales, but said higher prices are to be expected at events. “You don’t go to one of these events to get a hamburger or a lobster roll,” Nets said. “You go for the ambiance,” Netts said. “We all agree these large events, the seafood fest and Rock ‘n’ Rib, bring in people from the outside. The only way expand community is to bring in people.”

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12 Responses for “Tipsy on Daytona Beach’s Example, Palm Coast Considers Getting Its Own Liquor License”

  1. Ruben says:

    City government has no business in profit from alcohol. Sounds like a big liability down the line. Gotta be better ways to recover cleanup and admin costs. Dig deeper And see how other city’s handle these costs besides becoming bar tenders.

  2. Hammered says:

    Oh Boy….More legal Booze…..More drunk drivers…..More Court Fines …..More revenue for the Judicial system…..More money for Palm Coast…..Win Win Win !!!!!!!! I just love DRUNKS !!!!

  3. umm says:

    But the city is so broke they have to raise our water bills 17% and charge franchise fees on our utilities and put up 50+ red light cameras – all as sources of revenue….WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO GET THE $100,000.00 PLUS THAT A LIQUOR LICENSE IS GOING TO COST!?

    • Magnolia says:

      Umn, they have been raiding the water fund to the tune of $8 MILLION for a developer. $100,000 is a pittance. They’ll steal it from somewhere.
      Notice how they are doing this when the public cannot speak/vote? This is how business is conducted in Palm Coast under Mayor Netts.

      Recall, anyone?

  4. Intheknow says:

    Another example of this City running out of control. How do we allow these so called leaders make these incredible decisions. Now we a promoting alcohol consumption? Amazing!
    Stop wasting all those dollars manicuring Belle Terre Pkwy and you won’t need to sell alcohol and have a red light camera on every corner.
    It’s time to storm the Bastille!

  5. CHECK PLEASE says:

    The Seafood fest was horrible! Food was way to expensive and there was nothing to see. Plus you had to pay to get in.

  6. Maryjoe says:

    I dunno… I’m just really tired of Landon predicting the future and now he’s doing it with how the land owners are going to behave after they build. HE HAS NO CLUE. And thank you Jason for putting it out there. Why should there be more liquor sales when these events are supposed to be family oriented..is that not the ambiance? And when did the rib fest have to have a prize of $10K??? Who’s brainy idea was that? Sounds like when you just had to have the tennis courts because you just knew it was going to bring in the big wigs. Look… one rib fest, 10k prize regardless is not a city going to make. Knock it off already. There is no reason why our bucks have to be spent so you can get a liquor license.

  7. tulip says:

    I do not think there should be a liquor license either. If someone can’t attend an event without having to drink booze there, stay home. The city complains that the Rib Fest is a money loser or they don’t make enough money from it. To me, if a product is making money for you, get rid of it and try something else. Either find a way to make it less expensive or cancel it.

    Someone mentioned big money prizes. I think a couple of inexpensive prizes like a awarding $100 gift cards to a few winners instead of huge money to one winner.

    Again, no liquor license!!

  8. wsh302@msn.com says:

    maybe they now will build an ABC store in town center, maybe legalize marijuana too and we can call it LOVE PARK. You better hire more deputies to control the intox individuals

  9. Ruben says:

    It’s time to elect young well educated diversified people to replace the good ole boys. Come on folks we know thier out there just ripe for the picking. Retire move on and let’s get a fresh start with new ideas and goals to make Palm Coast to be what it was intended to be. Stop our money hungry business elected officials from their idiotic views.

    • question? says:

      Are there not liquor stores here now? You people are acting like if they get a liquor license this place is going to hell!! To late for that, its amazing palm coast isnt on fire all the time!!! lol Im not disagreeing they dont need to spend the money, but as far as the rants about the drunks on the road, promoting alcohol consumption and stepping up law enforcement nothings going to change from that aspect. They can get it now just the same, you arent going to stop people from drinking and if you cant wrap that around your head than im sorry… The only thing you can do is try to put a stop to useless spending by the city! I hope youre a determined individual!!

  10. markingthedays says:

    Fact: A serving of beer, wine, or hard liquor all contain the same amount of pure alcohol. To not allow liquor because you think it gets a person more drunk is puritanical garbage.

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