Community Center to serve alcohol in Farmersville

By Crystal Havner

For the first time in the city’s history, Farmersville has a Community Center to play host to large scale events, such as dinners and fundraisers.

But in order to rent out the $3 million facility to interested parties, the idea of serving alcohol on the premises had to be discussed.

At its July 23 meeting, the Farmersville City Council discussed creating an alcohol use policy for the rental agreement of the Community Center. Because the Community Center is owned by the City but currently being leased by the Boys and Girls Club of the Sequoias, Executive Director Joe Engelbrecht spoke on the reasoning behind the request.

“Our intent is to be good stewards of a wonderful facility,” Engelbrecht said. “The only reason why we consider letting renters the use of alcohol is that it makes the building more rentable.”

Farmersville Unified School Board member Al Vanderslice was against the idea.

“They should not be using alcohol right across the street from a school,” said Vanderslice, referring to Hester Elementary. “It’s the Boys and Girls Club and they should keep those things separate.”

Another FUSD Board member, Alice Lopez, spoke in favor of allowing alcohol.

“This city does not have anywhere to have big social events,” she said. “If you want to have something big you have to go out of town. I want to keep my money here.”

Farmersville Kiwanian and resident John Alvarez said the City’s policy could allow it to restrict how and when alcohol could be used and also help generate revenue for the City.

“It would be revenue for the city,” Alvarez said. “I am just asking that you keep an open mind. You could limit the use to the weekends.”

Council member Paul Boyer said, “Every other city has a large gathering hall. With the Community Center our intent was for the Boys and Girls Club to use it during business hours and to serve as a community center after hours. I do not want to see hard alcohol, but beer and wine I think is acceptable.”

Council member Mike Santana added, “We need a community center so people do not have to go outside of the city. As long as everyone follows the guidelines I do not see it being an issue.”

Mayor Don Rowlett said, “I can see both sides. Just because Visalia does it, does not mean we have to. There is no alcohol allowed in the city parks so there is a history of no alcohol. If we do agree to this then I say just beer and wine. My gut tells me to go along with Mr. Vanderslice, but me and Mr. Vanderslice may be old fossils and the general public may not agree and I do not want to push my beliefs on others.”

The Council voted 3-1 to have City Manager Rene Miller create the guidelines necessary for renters to have beer and wine. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Councilmember Leonel Benavides.

“It just creates more problems and this community does not need more problems,” said Benavides.

Miller said the guidelines drafted will be presented to the Council at a later date. Once the guidelines are finalized, the Council would then vote the final version.


In Other News:

Infrastructure was the main topic for the rest of the meeting.

The City Council voted to approve the contract for Central Valley Asphalt to reconstruct the intersection at Oakland/Kern/Shasta.

Council then directed staff to begin the process of acquiring right-of-way along Farmersville Boulevard for a future widening project to improve appearance, safety and traffic flow from Highway 198 into town. Council also put out a request for bids for future sewer plant design. The council directed Quad Knoff to repair the signal light at Walnut and Farmersville Boulevard. The signal light time will be optimized and a traffic loop will be fixed. A north bound exclusive right turn lane will also be added.

The council also voted to start abatement proceeding on property located at 176 W. Birch. Police Chief Mario Krstic said the property had been in disrepair since 2007. He said an explosion on the property blew the roof up and the walls out and it would take a significant amount of money to bring the building up to code. Krstic also stated that the property owner has been contacted several times but is not responding.

AAA Quality Services was requesting a letter from the city so they could rezone the property north of Farmersville along Highway 198. This is so they could add a water recirculation building.

City Manager Rene Miller said she did not like the idea of letting them rezone.

“If we let them rezone,” she said, “we then loose any control of what happens out there and that is the entrance to the City.”

Miller instead suggested that AAA Quality Services annex the property into the city.

Benavides agreed, “It [annexation] will give us more control over what they do out there.”

The council voted 4-0 to request that the property be annexed into the city limits.

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