At our meeting on March 12, 2012, we heard a report from staff about the current policy regarding the use of our Town Commons, and whether we wanted to investigate any changes to the policy.  Most of the agenda item consisted of a history of the modifications to the policy (for example, expansion of the Farmer’s Market, allowing fundraisers, allowing other events of different durations under certain conditions, and discussing insurance requirements).   One suggested change we were made aware we might consider was whether we wanted staff to investigate allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol at the Town Commons (we have such a policy at the Century Center).    Making such a change to the policy would allow us to attract different kinds of events, such as a “Cask Ale Festival” as suggested by Tyler Huntington of locally owned Tyler’s Taproom.

Before we considered the motion, we spent a good deal of time asking various town employees how increasing our special events has affected their existing workloads.   In particular, we spoke with Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison and Public Works Director George Seiz.  Recreation and Parks Director Anita Jones-McNair was also in the audience. These three departments, in particular, are affected by this increase in events.

Annette Stone, our Economic Development Director, has done a bang-up job highlighting special events and bringing new ones to the Town, and partnering with local businesses to increase these (witness the Tift Merritt concert held in fall of 2011 at Town Commons as well as the “For the Love of Carrboro” February themes, among others).  But with an increase in these type of activities comes more work on our already busy staff, and we wanted to signal to the Town Manager (David Andrews) that we recognize this and if necessary, we should explore creative solutions to accommodate our goal to add events, but not burn out or overwork staff.  David agreed that he was aware of this, and was working to identify ways to address these concerns.

The Board voted unanimously for staff to bring back to the Board procedures that would allow alcohol on the Town Commons property, also taking into account all insurance requirements.