City discusses amending alcohol license

Published 2:45 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The Americus mayor and city council will vote on only one item at its Thursday regular meeting but they also have other business.
• Recognition of the Honorary Council member of the month, Butch Cusack.
• Mayor’s presentation of a proclamation to Americus Fire Chief Allen Erkhart in recognition of his upcoming retirement.
• Mayor’s presentation of a proclamation to Americus Police Chief Mark Scott in honor of National Police Week.
• Mayor’s presentation of a proclamation for Municipal Clerks Week.
• Mayor’s presentation of a proclamation in recognition of Building Safety Month.
• Local citizen, Ralph Cornwell, is on the agenda to address mayor and council concerning recycling.
• Mayor and council have invited a member of the Americus-Sumter County Payroll Development Authority to give a brief update on its activities.
• The item to be voted on is approving a budget of $137,000 for the Rees Park Basement Project. City lanning and Inspection director, Josh Roth, explained at the agenda setting session of May 11 that water has leaked through the walls of the building, creating moisture and air quality issues in the basement. The employee gym, located in the basement, has been temporarily closed, Roth said. The project will include sealing the basement floor, waterproofing for that section where water is coming through the walls, concreting and sealing the basement floor, and dehumidifying the entire basement. It also includes installation of a sump pump and drainage system for the basement.
Council member Shirley Green Reese asked Roth to look into the sound system in the Griffin Bell room in the building. “The sound system is zero,” she said.
In his updates, City manager, Steve Kennedy brought several matters for discussion.
• He recommends changes to the newly approved alcohol beverage license such as lowering the cost of alcohol licenses by 10 percent to “give license holders a break.” Kennedy said that compared with other cities in the area, Americus’ license fees are “significantly higher.” Another change he proposes involves the requirement for mandatory employee training for all who serve or sell alcohol. He proposes the maximum cost to a license holder be $100, “in an effort to be more business friendly,” he said. The other proposal is for the license review board. He urged the mayor and council to come up with some names for appointment to the board as soon as possible.
Kennedy also sought to clarify the city’s entertainment zone plans. He said the general thought was that it would be located in one place, but “that isn’t necessarily the ultimate plan or recommendation. The reason is there are other locations inside the city limits.” He distributed a map which identifies other locations in the city which would be good places for entertainment zones. These zones are designed to allow for events held outside the normal parameters of the downtown area, to cut excessive noise. The areas on the map are west of Cotton Avenue on Forsyth Street.
Council member Nelson Brown commented, “The clubs will have to move somewhere else because people don’t go to clubs until 11:30 or later … I’m concerned about being customer friendly.”
Kennedy said he was in the process of putting together a meeting with all the parties for a discussion of these matters.
Mayor Barry Blount said when the areas are identified and approved, the city will still have to hold public hearings to get input.
Councilman Brown then spoke about the need for Brookdale Park to keep kids out of the streets. The mayor said the problem with the park was not the kids, “but things going on after dark such as drugs, etc.” He said the city owns property on Armory Drive that’s “more open and the police ride by a lot. That would be a good place for a park.” Brown commented that the people in the Brookdale community look at the area as “historical” because an abbatoir (slaughterhouse) used to be located there.
The mayor and council voted to go into closed session to discuss several appointments