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Medford council allows alcohol at special events

The City Council on Thursday voted to allow alcohol to be consumed at special events in Medford parks and some city buildings.

“I think it’s a common-sense change,” Councilor Bob Strosser said.

The council approved a code change that would allow alcohol consumption in parks and city facilities and overturn the current, but largely ignored, ban on alcohol.

Medford officials became aware only recently of a city code written in 1981 that forbids the consumption of alcohol in parks, even though events at U.S. Cellular Community Park and other city properties did serve beer and wine.

An incident at a cage-fighting event at U.S. Cellular Park on Sept. 6 triggered a review of Medford’s rules, and the City Council discovered the serving of drinks at the park's Miles Field was illegal under city codes. The city did provide a permit for the event, however.

Under the code, weddings and events at other city-owned properties also weren’t allowed to serve alcohol.

Councilor Eli Matthews said changing the code will help attract events at city facilities that will show off the region’s growing reputation for local beers and wines.

The alcohol could be consumed at the following locations: parking lots owned by the city; streets, alleys or public rights of ways within the business district; Santo Community Center; Carnegie building; Alba Park; Hawthorne Park; Bear Creek Park; Pear Blossom Park; Vogel Plaza; and U.S. Cellular Community Park. Distilled alcohol and cider could be served at Santo Community Center and the Carnegie building with approval from the city manager.

Serving at other parks and locations owned by the city would require special approval from the City Council.

An event permit would be required to serve alcohol, and the cost would increase to $50 from the current $25. Event sponsors would be required to receive permits from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Alcohol would have to be consumed under a tent or some other kind of designated enclosure during an event.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.