Will Ravenstein

Wellington Daily News

A resolution designed to designate an area of downtown a common consumption zone failed to reach a motion Tuesday evening at the Wellington City Council Meeting.

In nearly an hour of discussion including concerns raised by citizens and ministers of Wellington the council opted to not take any action.

The resolution called for Washington Avenue from the North side of Harvey Avenue to the South side of 8th Street, including sidewalks. Seventh Street from the West edge of the Alley between Washington Avenue and C Street, to the East edge of the alley between Washington Avenue and Jefferson Avenue, including the sidewalks. Lots 23 and 24, Block 59, Original Town, City of Wellington, Sumner County, Kansas, a.k.a. 121 N. Washington, Wellington, Kansas, commonly known as the Antler’s Lot. The South Half of the East Half of Block 53, Original Town, City of Wellington, Sumner County, Kansas, commonly known as Heritage Park as the designated area.

Pastor Zane Brooks, Free Will Baptist Church, opened the public comment on the resolution.

“I sat here and listened to many people speak and many of them said for the children, family, protection, safety,” he said. “I come here speaking for myself and what I believe to be many. Many that are not here, many churches that are not here.”

Brooks questioned Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath about a great police presence if this passed. Which Heath replied, ‘yes.’

“If there is to be more police added, because I know you know why,” Brooks said. “Cause, there is going to be more problems, more issues. That’s why it will cost us more, that’s what will make each individual pay more. Consequentially, I believe the money, and that’s always where its at. Follow the money.”

Brooks stated that though there are likely financial gains expected from this resolution he believes that the allowing of alcohol will drive people and families away from the activities causing a loss of revenue in the process.

“What my concerns is that we are opening up our family friendly environment,” Brooks said. “I know that you (the council members) love this town. But we are looking at a place where we are bringing children into proximity of open consumption. Which we believe it to be against the law to bring alcohol onto the streets.”

Brian Strange spoke next after a line of questioning from council member Jim Valentine directed towards Heath.

Strange informed the council that he moved to Wellington for the small town atmosphere after living in Wichita for 10 years.

“I’m very proud to say I’m from Wellington, I may not have been born here but this is my hometown,” he said. “I fail to see how emulating what a larger city is going to do, is going to benefit our small town community. To me, the strength and value we have as a small town, is the fact that we are a small town. We have small town values. Flushing those down the toilet in search for a dollar, sells us down the river.”

Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB Director Annarose White was able to answer questions from the council about the law and asked if The Dore or Barefoot Jerry’s had shown interest in participating.

White clarified previous city ordinances with regards to the Kansas Wheat Festival beer garden.

“Last year the 200 block of North Washington was beer garden area that was an open carry within the fenced in boundaries.” White said. “I am very happy to report that we didn’t have any arrests or incidents. I have confirmed with Chief Heath. Throughout the years the beer garden has been going, we believe 15-20 years, there have not been any arrests and only one person having to be escorted outside of the beer garden.”

White stated that thanks to great group of volunteers thing worked smoothly last year with the larger beer garden.

White mentioned that she has been working with the Summer County Community Drug Action Team to set a training date on June 29, at the Wellington Recreation Center for anyone that is involved in selling alcohol.

White stated that the large area request was to allow for both drinking establishments to participate if they chose too.

Council member Kip Etter clarified that he still had questions with the law when he state that the Dore might participate.

Coucnil member Vince Wetta voiced his opinion on the matter.

“I like beer, I like guns, I like families with kids,” he said. “But, i don’t like putting them together.”

During the intense conversation Mayor Shelly Hansel allowed emotion to show.

“I’m sorry,” Hansel said. “I’ve walked a mile in her shoes. And I appreciate her very much too. When everyone vilifies you it’s a really tough position as a leader. So I apologize if this is embarrassing to some of our council members up here, but I’m a real person.”

Hansel was a previous Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce Director.

Etter stated that though he realized that the resolution was not going anywhere due to lack of a motion he wanted to ensure that the beer garden was still in place for the Kansas Wheat Festival.

“I agree with Kip, I want a beer garden,” Wetta said. “People like it.”

Late in the discussion it was agreed that the council will hold a special meeting on Monday, June 26, during a scheduled work session where they will approve the temporary CMB permit for Antler’s Lot for a small beer garden with Caldwell’s Czech Chapter selling 3.2-percent beer.