Alcohol at parks, zoo goes to vote

Saturday, July 13, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The debate in one southwest Missouri city over whether alcohol should be sold at certain park and zoo events appears headed for public vote.

Springfield city clerks certified 1,500 signatures of registered voters Thursday in the first initiative petition drive in recent memory. That is more than the 1,454 signatures required to move the measure to the November ballot.

The proposal seeks to allow alcohol to be sold at select softball, golf, hockey and tennis events, as well as at Dickerson Park Zoo fund-raisers within the Springfield-Greene County parks system.

Friends of the Zoo members have said they could double profits from "Ball of the Wild" if allowed to hold the annual fund-raiser at the zoo and serve alcohol. The event is currently held at a restaurant in nearby Ozark.

With the certification, Springfield City Council has 30 days to act on the petition language that becomes a proposed ordinance. If they reject it or table it, the proposal would appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Most believe council approval is doubtful. Members rejected a similar ordinance in March after some church leaders and residents objected.

At least one councilman favors letting the public decide.

"There are at least 1,500 people who think it ought to be permitted," councilman Bob Chancellor said.

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