WBR Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot and parish parks and recreation director Anatole Vincent were on hand at the Addis Town Council Meeting Wednesday evening, September 4 to discuss with the council members an ordinance they believed would be less-than-beneficial to the town’s people.
The ordinance, Ordinance #2013-5, which was introduced in the August meeting, had no action taken upon it as it was not properly advertised for three consecutive weeks in the West Side Journal, according to Mayor David Toups.
The ordinance in question orders any persons holding an event at a public area within the town with intentions of selling, serving or consuming alcohol during an event, to have a uniformed officer on site, with first right of refusal going to the Addis Police Department.
Ordinance #2013-5, Chapter 3, Section 3-1.1 (g) states, “Whenever there is an event or gathering in the Town of Addis in a public area where alcohol will be consumed, served or sold, the person or persons shall notify the Town of Addis. At such event or gathering a police officer(s) from the Town of Addis shall be present for the duration of the event or gathering to be paid by the applicant for the event or gathering directly to the police officer(s). The Addis Police Department shall be contacted first, and officers from the Addis Police Department shall be utilized if available. If not available, the applicant may utilize another commissioned law enforcement officer.”
Section 3-1.1 (h) says that the requirement will apply to all public area including particularly, but not exclusively, the WBR Parish Community Center, Addis Civic Center, VFW Hall, Myhand Park and any other public area.
During a public hearing on Ordinance #2013-5, Berthelot pleaded with the council to remove Myhand Park from the list on the ordinance, saying that there is no record of any disturbances at Myhand Park during tournaments and safety has never been in question during events in the park.
“I have a particular interest in the Myhand Park. Myhand Park is something that we don’t seem to have a problem,” Berthelot said to the council members. “I’ve pulled all the 9-1-1 records since January 1, 2010 – we have three-and-a-half years of history at that park, and we had basically no calls of disturbances at that park on any of these days where a softball tournament is taking place.”
Vincent said that the park doesn’t belong on the list of town-owned property that must have a uniformed officer on site during events, and said that making event organizers purchase the time of an Addis officer, or any other officer, may hurt future events in the park.
“If that’s what you guys decide to do at the centers, I’m fine with it. It’s not an added fee or expense. They already have to pay for an officer to be there when they’re using or consuming alcohol, so for that issue if that’s what you guys want in the town, that’s fine with us.
“Our biggest thing was at these ball tournaments, you’re going to add an expense to a group that is trying to raise money for a benefit… that’s what we’ve got an issue with,” Vincent said. “If there were some policy issues that we thought the public was in danger we would have already implemented them because that’s our job. We don’t feel like there’s any policy issues there.”
Lance Gautreaux, Addis councilman, said that the council’s intention in adding the ball park to the ordinance was simply to proactively remove any issue of possible risks, but added that the ordinance is mainly directed toward the VFW and community center.
“(Myhand Park) wasn’t our biggest gripe… we just kind of incorporated that. I don’t think we’re looking to push for the ball field,” he said.
Ricky Anderson, Addis Police Chief, agreed, saying that he initially desired to have the community center and VFW hall on the ordinance and added that the goal of the ordinance is to protect residents, not to deter them from hosting events in the area.
“The incidents that we were concerned about were not at the ballpark,” Anderson said. “I agree with Pee Wee, there have been very few incidents at the ball park… and that’s not the issue.
“The whole purpose is security, regardless of who’s working it… we try to have something for the people to see, and deterrence is a major part of security. If they see the police car there, they know that we’re present.”
Berthelot said he and Vincent were simply present to make the council aware that the language of the ordinance may cause confusion pertaining to the legality of drinking alcoholic beverages in certain areas of town without hiring an officer.
“If you’re going to have a barbeque while your kids play in the splash pad at the park - if you adopt this ordinance the way it’s written, you’re going to have to have police there,” Berthelot said.
Addis Mayor David Toups asked the council to carefully consider the parish president’s words, and said that any suggestions of amendments to the ordinance should be brought forth soon.
“Just take this information under advisement. We have a draft of an ordinance that Dana (Larpenteur, town attorney) came up with. Any changes or suggestions you can get it to me or to Dana,” said Toups adding that the ordinance was introduced in a previous council meeting. He said that because it was introduced, it will be advertised unless the item is pulled from an upcoming agenda. “As of now, it’s still going to be on the next agenda. As far as an ordinance being passed and presented, and if they pass it or not.”