2021 | Government

Planning Board to consider extension, expansion of alcohol consumption at some parks

Program could be extended one year, with four new parks added

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After a one-year trial, the Montgomery County Planning Board will decide on Thursday whether to continue allowing people to drink alcohol in some local parks.

In September, as COVID-19 took hold of the region, Montgomery County for the first time allowed people to consume alcohol in a handful of parks, part of an initiative to support struggling restaurants during the pandemic.

The county Planning Board temporarily suspended the prohibition of alcohol consumption at nine parks, which is branded as an expansion of the county’s “Picnic in the Park” program. Picnic in the Park allows people to order food from nearby restaurants — and eat it at common areas outside — by scanning a QR code with their mobile device.

On Thursday, the Planning Board will decide whether to continue the program for another year, and expand it to four additional parks.

The parks that would allow visitors to drink beer, wine and mixed drinks from 11 a.m. to dusk are:

• Carroll Knolls Local Park
• Elm Street Urban Park
• Ellsworth Urban Park
• Flower Avenue Urban Park
• Acorn Urban Park
• Germantown Town Center Urban Park
• Jessup Blair Local Park
• Norwood Local Park
• Olney Manor Recreational Park
• Takoma Urban Park
• Wall Local Park
• Wheaton Local Park
• Wheaton Regional Park

When the Planning Board first considered the proposal last year, some community members spoke out against it, concerned it would increase excessive alcohol consumption, car crashes and underage drinking. Others said it could increase disorderly conduct and littering.

But in an email to Bethesda Beat, Parks and Recreation Community Supervisor Kirsten Hein wrote that the “vast majority of the feedback has been positive.”

“People enjoyed opportunities to get out during the pandemic and the colder months and enjoy fresh air, food, beverage and socializing,” Hine wrote.