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Anna leaders reconsider allowing alcohol at city park

ANNA (WSIL) — Dozens of people showed up Tuesday night to the Anna City Council meeting to hear what leaders had to say about changing the alcohol ordinance at the Anna City Park. 

Union County Fair board members are rooting for alcohol in the park to help bring in a profit for the fair, but not all neighbors are cheering along. 

"I have a real objection for this to be allowed on city property," Anna resident Cindy Allen said. 

"Even here, we are going to allow people to go on the spot and indulge themselves?," local pastor David Fischler said. 

Residents like Megan Brown believe city leaders should not change the alcohol ordinance at the park. 

"In a small community, I find there aren’t a lot of places to go that don’t have drinking, drugging or gambling and the park is one of the places that I go," Brown said. 

Brown is a recovering alcoholic. She’s afraid by allowing alcohol inside the park, it will bring back bad memories. 

"This isn’t a joking matter, it’s nothing to take lightly," Brown said. 

During the meeting, council members said by changing the ordinance to allow alcohol in the park, could mean more tourism, but Brown disagrees. 

"There’s not a whole lot of things to do here that tourist really need to be here for," Brown said. "We have wine trails on the outskirts of the county for them to enjoy."

One of the biggest events held at the Anna City Park is the Union County Fair. 

Fair board members said that if the ordinance would change they would soon offer beer inside the fair. 

"We want to try it for year," fair board member Bill Clutts said. "All the fair board members are in agreeance that if something happens and it doesn’t work or we have problems we will shut it down."

Clutts said by selling alcohol it would bring a profit in for the fair. 

"The state isn’t funding us like it’s used to so we have to make money somewhere," Clutts said. 

Clutts said if the city passes the revised ordinance soon, they would apply immediately to have a license for next year’s fair.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, city leaders assured residents that if the ordinance would change, alcohol would be required within a confined space. 

Clutts said the fair plans on using an old barn and putting up fencing around to only allow people in and out one way, making them pass security and show their ID. 

"Everyone on the fair board has talked about it and we are going to run security to the max because we don’t want any problems," Clutts said. 

Mayor Steve Hartline promised residents that the organizers of the special events would have to apply for the license, it wouldn’t be handed out.

Two years ago, the council tried changing the ordinance but it didn’t pass, but now they want to try it again with new council member.

Brown said she thinks residents should have a bigger say. 

"I find it very unfortunate that they won’t let the public vote on this," Brown said. "We also thought about having a petition signed by our community."

After listening to the community members Tuesday night, the Anna City Council now plans to meet with the city lawyer to draft the ordinance change. 

They expect to vote on the change next month. 

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