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Article posted: 7/23/2013 6:52 PM

Carol Stream Park District ponders alcohol sales

By Christopher Placek

Carol Stream Park District officials are considering allowing alcohol sales during paid rental events at the new Fountain View Recreation Center and during adult softball tournaments at McCaslin Park.

Residents interested in renting rooms at the new recreation center, which is expected to open Labor Day weekend, already have been contacting the park district to inquire if alcohol will be allowed on site for parties, officials said.

Park district staff members haven't been able to provide a definitive answer yet, since the park board must first make a policy determination.

Park board President Tim Powers and Vice President Wynn Ullman discussed the issue at a workshop meeting this week during which they expressed early support for the plans, but indicated the entire seven-member board would need to be consulted before a final decision is made.

One proposal would be for the park district to contract for alcohol service through a caterer, which would be required to have its own liquor license and insurance.

Powers and Ullman said that's likely a better option than allowing the park district to hire on-site bartenders of its own, or permitting patrons to bring their own alcohol to their Christmas parties and baby showers.

"It's a no-brainer to go to a third party," Powers said.

Ullman said he favors allowing alcohol only for rentals at the rec center and not all the time.

"It's got to be some kind of event," Ullman said. "It's not going to be you get done working out and you go have a beer."

The park board could take a general policy vote to approve the allowance of alcohol for rentals, but it's also possible each request would be subject to the board's approval. The board also would likely consider allowing alcohol at Simkus Recreation Center, an existing facility that has rooms available for rent.

At McCaslin Park, located in an unincorporated area at North Avenue and St. Charles Road, the park district has experimented with beer and wine sales during two adult 16-inch softball tournaments -- one last October and the other last weekend.

The district's on-site vendor, RoccoVino's, conducted sales from the park's concession stand. No alcohol incidents were reported during either event, officials said.

The park board voted this week to approve temporary alcohol sales at two additional tournaments scheduled for Aug. 16-18 and Aug. 29-Sept. 2 to use as a test case for potentially offering alcohol there for all adult tournaments.

The previous tournaments were much smaller in scale and were operated in-house by the park district, but the next events will be national tournaments run by the Slow-Pitch Softball Association -- with each expected to attract as many as 32 teams, according to Dave Haring, the park district's superintendent of recreation.

"That will give us a pretty good indication if we can handle this," Haring said.

He said tournament organizers have indicated they enjoy the park facilities, but asked that the district consider selling alcohol.

"They like the fields, but they didn't like that they couldn't get a beer there," Haring said.

The softball association will be required to provide a security guard starting at 5 p.m. each day of the two upcoming tournaments.

Powers said he favors the sale of alcohol because of the possibility to generate additional revenue for the park district, which gets a percentage of all sales from food and beverages by RoccoVino's.

Ullman said he also is in favor, but cautioned that it can only take one person to get out of hand.

"We had two good events, but we easily could have had two bad events," Ullman said. "I'm all for it, but it doesn't take much for it to go south. I love the idea, but one bad apple can trash it for everybody."

The district is not proposing to sell alcohol during youth athletic events, Haring said.

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