Baraboo bans drinking at several city parks

January 30, 2019

Drinking at several city parks would be expressly prohibited under ordinance changes heading to the Baraboo Common Council for approval.

Last week, the Parks Commission recommended several changes to an ordinance governing park activity. Some would merely eliminate duplication of laws established elsewhere in city code. Others plainly set new rules in black and white.

For example, the commission opted to eliminate seasonal hours, closing parks from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. year-round, with the exception of the Riverwalk, as long as users are moving; and the dog park, which is open from sunrise to sunset.

The Parks Commission voted unanimously Jan. 21 to recommend the changes, which will go before the council in February.

Generating significant discussion were rules on alcohol consumption. City leaders don’t want to crack down on social drinking at family reunions, but seek to address problem drinking at trouble spots.

“We tried to put a little common sense in there,” said Baraboo Police Chief Mark Schauf. “The reality is the park police aren’t going to show up.”

Liquor isn’t allowed in city parks. Beer sales are allowed at Pierce Park for certain events and at Lower Ochsner and Attridge parks during Zoo Crew Day. Wine and beer is allowed at Nanny Park during Wine Walk events.

City staff proposed a list of parks, based on complaints, where alcohol consumption should be outlawed. These include Campbell Park, Hackett Hollow Conservancy, Liston Dog Park and the Riverwalk.

Commissioner James Francisco asked how the rules might apply to parks not listed. “I guess it would be OK if I set up two lawn chairs with a 12-pack,” he said.

He recommended adding Myron Park to the list, as it lies on a busy street, across from businesses that serve alcohol. The commission approved the addition.

Other changes involved banning smoking at Ochsner Park Zoo, codifying rules for the dog park and eliminating parts of the ordinance that duplicate other parts of city code.

“If it’s prohibited everywhere else in the city, why wouldn’t it be prohibited in a park?” Schauf asked.

The amendments followed a November discussion that prompted the Parks Commission to ask department heads to submit ordinance language that would make city code reflect the community’s needs.

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