The Flagstaff City Council will take another look at an ordinance tonight designed to curb the drinking of alcohol in Bushmaster or Ponderosa parks.

Both are plagued with problems associated with public drinking.

The ordinance stalled several months ago when questions arose over whether requiring permits to drink wine and beer in city parks would curb alcohol consumption by transients or simply move them to other areas of the city.

Currently, it is legal to drink beer -- but not hard alcohol -- in most city parks.

A slim majority of the council favored imposing new restrictions on areas where drinking beer and wine has been a problem rather than extending them to all city parks.

For example, beer is consumed legally in Thorpe Park during softball games. This particular activity is not considered a problem by nearby residents or the Flagstaff Police Department.

But those favoring a citywide requirement for such permits contend street alcoholics will simply move out of Bushmaster or Ponderosa parks and go into smaller "pocket parks" in nearby neighborhoods if the limited ordinance is approved.

Bushmaster is located in lower Greenlaw off Lockett Road. Ponderosa is in Sunnyside near Killip School.

A city staff report recommends the city require the free beer and wine permits for only those two city parks.

Currently, possession of alcohol is not illegal in Bushmaster and Ponderosa parks.

If approved, the police department as well as the parks and recreation division would issue free beer and wine permits on an advance reservation basis.

The permits are not the same as liquor licenses for businesses, issued by the state liquor board.

Police Chief Brent Cooper said that although the city has the right to deny permits to individuals, the reasons to say "no" will be fairly limited.

Those who reserved the parks for picnics, barbecues and other group events will be issued a permit.

The city has had several false starts in addressing public drinking in city parks in the last few years. A similar citywide ordinance got an initial reading in 2006 but it was never brought back for final approval. All city ordinances need two readings before they can become law.

The city's parks and recreation commission also discussed similar ordinances 2001, 2005, 2009 and earlier this year.

One of the only initial costs of the ordinance to the city, if approved, would be the printing of signs for $1,540.

Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or

Editor's Note: This report has been corrected from its original version.

(7) comments


I would prefer to see alcohol banned in parks. Many people go to parks with children and to allow drinking in parks sets a bad example for children. When you go to a bar, you know to expect people to be drinking. But many people who use our parks do not expect to see people drinking, and might be more comfortable if they did not see that. The proposed permit system creates an inconsistent two-tiered system that seems unfair and confusing. Do we want drinking in parks or not? I say no.


As a responsible adult, If I hold picnic or celebration in a city park, I think I should be able to have alcohol available. I, and those like me, are not the problem here. Sorry if seeing me holding a beer makes some people "uncomfortable".


I don't want to visit a park full of slobbering drunks and broken glass, but I have no problem with someone responsibly enjoying a drink in a park. If the real problem is public intoxication and littering, we have laws prohibiting that, enforce them. Let's not take away rights from the responsible.


Didn't we already try prohibition?


Another Nanny City law! Let's not remove alcohol from parks because it may offend somebody! Use the other laws on the books to pick up public drunks. This is just another power grab by out liberal city council....


Parks like Bushmaster are located in a residential area where children must either walk through or near to get to and from school and youth activities. Such parks should have "permit only" alcohol and no drugs and have it enforced. It would be even better to have a mounted patrol officer or a K-9 team at such a park, at least during daylight hours, every day.

While our city council is at it, the city should cut the weeds, which are turning into mature trees, along E. 7th Ave.

Chris Lincoln
Chris Lincoln

Geez! This is right up there with the "Sleeping Ordinance". The police never ticket anyone for sleeping in their big expensive RV parked at Cracker Barrel overnight. This will be just one more law that is only enforced against the people who are least likely to be able to pay the fine. It's one more way to hassle the lower end of the economic ladder. If they can't handle their beer then arrest them for public intox, we don't need more laws to give cops another reason to hassle someone.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.