A beer garden near in would help draw people to the area year-round, city officials told aldermen Tuesday. Aldermen authorized staff to move forward with the development of the garden during their discussion session at City Hall.
The beer garden would be located just north of the rink in the park's Century Garden. It would serve as a gathering space, offer food and drinks—including beer and wine—and host live music.
City officials hope to "test and characterize the area" to see if it can function as a year-round space, parks and recreation director Patty DeForrest said. She has been working with economic developer Gary Carter on the project at the request of City Manager Craig Owens.
"Our goal is to generate revenue to cover the cost of this operation," DeForrest said.
Already the garden has been chosen as the The sculpture is expected to be installed in the spring of 2013, .
Site challenges and proposed solutions
The beer garden proposal doesn't come without challenges. A presentation made available to aldermen outlines several issues at the site, including limited space for tables and chairs, and the absence of restrooms and kitchen facilities.
Possible solutions include:
- Using pavers to create seating space at a cost of $4,000. They would be located just west of the garden's statue in an area that hasn't been planted with vegetation this year. The paths already in place aren't wide enough to hold tables, Carter said.
- Taking advantage of the Shaw Park pool's kitchen, which is available for free
- Using the sound system at the pool to broadcast live music. The purchase of a speaker would be required.
In total, the garden is expected to require a $10,000 investment, the city presentation states. The city would pay for that using money previously allocated for furniture. A request for proposals would be issued immediately following approval to identify a vendor for the beer garden and pool concessions. Money from the vendor contract would be used to cover beer garden costs.
Two refrigerators can be moved to the area, and an ice-making machine can be rented, DeForrest said.
Advantages of the site would include its visibility from the street, the city presentation states. The garden lies along Brentwood Boulevard at its intersection with Bonhomme Avenue. It would also allow a vendor to make use of food facilities at and beverage facilities at the ice rink.
Questions about restaurateur feedback, garden's size
Ward 3 Alderman Steve Lichtenfeld asked whether the warming hut at the ice rink is secure enough to hold refrigeration units. DeForrest said it is.
Ward 1 Alderman Judy Goodman asked when the garden would operate. DeForrest indicated it would probably begin Memorial Day weekend and continue through the end of the pool season.
The garden likely would be open from Thursday or Friday through Sunday weekly, Carter said.
Goodman also asked how restaurateurs feel about the idea. Carter said a number of them were consulted about the project and seemed excited about it.
Lichtenfeld also asked whether people could go from the pool to the garden and vice cersa. DeForrest said she hopes they would, particularly from the pool to the garden. Patrons will still not be allowed to bring any alcoholic beverages into the pool area, she said.
Plastic wine glasses would be offered rather than glass ones, Carter said, and no beer bottles will be available.
Ward 2 Alderman Cynthia Garnholz asked how many people the garden is expected to accommodate. DeForrest said the city hopes to offer enough seating for 45 people.
Ward 2 Alderman Michelle Harris asked whether the garden would affect the timeline of installation for the Surls sculpture, and DeForrest said it would not.
Alternative plan proposed volleyball courts at ice rink site
Another option discussed Tuesday would have located the beer garden at the ice rink, though Carter said that would cost tens of thousands of dollars more.
At the ice rink, infrastructure is a primary concern. The warming hut is not equipped for the sale of food and the walls of the ice rink cannot be taken down easily. Additionally, the area is hit by direct sunlight, there is limited seating and the empty ice rink isn't visually appealing.
That option would feature the renovation of the rink's warming hut at a cost of between $10,000 to $60,000, allowing for food preparation; the placement of a rental tent over the ice rink at a cost of $60,000 for a four-month period; and the conversion of rink space to sand volleyball courts at a cost of $30,000.