City staff will look at tweaking local ordinances to allow alcohol at Memorial Auditorium.
The McCook City Council directed staff Monday night to review policies currently in place that prohibit alcohol at the city auditorium, after hearing a request from a McCook citizen.
Mark Friehe told the council Monday night at the regular meeting that he is planning a wedding reception for his daughter and because of scheduling conflicts, cannot find a venue that can accommodate 300-400 people with alcohol allowed.
He asked that the city look at reviewing existing policies at the city auditorium, to allow alcohol, but with stringent safeguards in place to ensure "accountability for the use of the facility."
"I respect the concerns regarding potential problems,' he said, offering several procedures the city could use as preventative measures and that he'd be willing to do, such as paying significant damage and clean-up deposits, using licensed caterers and paying for additional security.
State law allows no consumption of alcohol on public property unless approved by the presiding governmental agency, in this case, the city council.
Currently, non-profit groups pay $25 per day to rent the auditorium, with dances at $100 per day. Governmental agencies can rent the auditorium for $15 per day.
Fees include damage deposits of $100, plus a $200 clean-up deposit. Dances require damage deposits of $300, with the renter providing at least three security guards.
City Manager Kurt Fritsch said he was not for or against the request but advised the council to look at it for the long-term. Allowing alcohol involves certain risks with potential damage, he said, but this could be offset by increasing security and damage deposits and requiring certified instead of personal checks.
Because of concerns over the city competing with local businesses, but offering the use of the auditorium "should not be a low-cost option, alcohol or not," he said.
Councilman Aaron Kircher agreed, but said although he didn't want to make renting the auditorium too cost prohibitive, he didn't want to make it "too cheap, either."
Kircher also suggested that in the future, city staff look at alcohol polices for other city-owned facilities.