Lake Ozark challenged by balance of Strip popularity, safety protocols

Lake Sun Leader

Growing pains.

That may best describe a challenge the City of Lake Ozark is facing as it attempts to balance the popularity of The Strip with safety and open container protocol.

More and more events are taking place on The Strip because of its open-air entertainment atmosphere and the growing number of retail businesses. City officials in recent years have agreed to relax the open container laws by allowing businesses to expand the areas where alcohol can be sold and served. For some events, the city has allowed a large section of The Strip to be cordoned off for the consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages.

Throw into the mix the COVID-19 social gathering restrictions and businesses and the city have agreed to allow businesses to expand the footprint of their property lines into the parking areas so businesses can adhere to coronavirus recommendations.

Lost in the mix at a recent event was the agreement with bar owners that glass bottles are not allowed.

Alderman Judy Neels raised the issue at a recent board meeting, noting that the ordinance requires that during special events alcoholic beverages are to be contained in plastic cups. That wasn’t the case at the event as businesses were selling beverages in glass bottles throughout the event area.

“The original agreement stated that beverages ‘shall’ be in plastic cups,” she said. “No glass bottles are to be allowed within the event area. Those two stipulations were not followed at the last event.”

Neels said it’s important that businesses and event organizers understand the city has made the effort to allow the special events – with stipulations. 

“We all want these events to succeed and want businesses to make money, but everyone needs to follow rules,” she said.

Mayor Gerry Murawski said after the last event it was evident there had been a misunderstanding on the use of glass bottles. 

“We hada  long talk with some of the business owners and had two calls the next day from event organizers commenting about the amount of beer bottles they had to pick up,” he said. “We talked to bars and I don’t think we’ll see that at  future events. We agree with you 100 percent and we’ll be watching that issue really closely.”

Police Chief Gary Launderville, who told Neels she was “on target” with her concerns, noted in his written report to the board that there are issues.

“During a recent event there were glass bottles everywhere,” the chief noted. “If the establishments cannot follow the agreement, I can’t support this in the future.”