The Naples City Council narrowly voted 4-3 to approve the sale of beer and wine at the Pier during their meeting on Wednesday.
Council Member Doug Finlay said that he could not support the measure because the concentration of people at the Pier was too high and he worried about what problems intoxication might bring.
“I just don’t want people drunk on the pier causing problems with police and tourists,” said Finlay.
Consumption of alcohol is currently allowed on the beach as long as it is not in a glass container, but is prohibited on the Pier. Naples Police Chief Tom Weschler told the council members that the majority of problems his officers encounter involve the confusions over where alcohol can be consumed.
“It’s kind of awkward, you can drink on [the beach] but not on the pier.” said Weschler. “I have no issues with it being sold until sunset.”
Council Member Michelle McLeod expressed concern with the hours that vendors would be able to sell alcohol, from noon until sunset.
“I just wonder if noon is too early to be serving beer and wine,” said McLeod.
Mayor Bill Barnett told the council that he was familiar with the owner of the restaurant that would be providing the concession services, Gianluca Corso of Cosmos Cafe and Pizzeria. He said that Corso was a responsible business owner with a good record and that it was only fair to to move this forward after approving a similar deal to serve alcohol at Lowdermilk Park in October.
“I’ve seen this gentleman and how he operates,” Barnett said. “He pays attention to what he’s doing.”
Despite the mayor’s reassurance, Vice Mayor Linda Penniman said she could not vote to approve the measure because it did not respect the historical nature of the Pier.
“This is our historical icon and as a result I have a tremendous difficulty having alcohol served at our historical icon,” said Penniman. “I think we have to show some respect that this was the genesis of Naples.”
Even though the council voted 4-3 to move forward with the plan, two more hearings will be required to change the current ordinance at the Pier which strictly prohibits alcohol sales.
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