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Council recommends banning alcohol, limiting hours on Town Square

The clock is nearing midnight on a loophole that allows open consumption of alcohol in Town Square and other downtown Grand Forks parks. The Grand Forks City Council, meeting as the Committee of the Whole, voted unanimously Monday to recommend a ...

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The clock is nearing midnight on a loophole that allows open consumption of alcohol in Town Square and other downtown Grand Forks parks.

The Grand Forks City Council, meeting as the Committee of the Whole, voted unanimously Monday to recommend a new city ordinance which would ban alcohol consumption in Town Square, Loon Park, Pillsbury Park and Centennial Park.

Council member Jeannie Mock asked Deputy City Planner Ryan Brooks why such an ordinance would be needed, as she believed open containers were already banned.

Existing city code already prohibits consuming alcoholic beverages in any public right-of-way, street, alley or public sidewalk without a permit.

Brooks said that while most people think of pocket parks and Town Square as being part of that ban, this measure is intended to close any potential loopholes.

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The police have asked City Attorney Howard Swanson for the ordinance, Brooks told the committee.

Swanson said Town Square and other pocket parks sat in a strange grey area. The lots are owned by the city, but are technically private property. Council member Bret Weber said the parks with their unusual ownership status arose after the flood of 1997.

While public consumption is banned in the streets and in Park District properties, Town Square and pocket parks are technically neither of those things and one can currently legally consume alcohol in those spaces.

"There is no code right now that would make consumption in those private lots illegal," Swanson told the committee.

Another proposed ordinance would give the pocket parks and Town Square official hours and close the parks between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This would make their hours the same as park district properties, Brooks said.

As some pocket parks are in alleyways and contain sidewalks, Brooks said city staff have talked to police about using discretion when enforcing hours in the parks should the ordinance pass.

Other business

โ€ข Residents of Grand Forks concerned about pedestrian safety are encouraged to attend two meetings city leaders are hosting this week.

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Pedestrian crossing meetings will be held Tuesday at South Middle School and Thursday at Discovery Elementary School from 7 to 8:30 p.m. City officials are hoping to receive feedback on crosswalks from area parents and other members of the public.

โ€ข The committee voted to recommend accepting a bid from CC Steel to do the general construction on a new sewer lift station for $571,650 and from Sun Electric to do the wiring for $117,000. City engineers estimated the project would cost $916,500.

The lift station will serve the area near the water treatment plant under construction west of town.

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