The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Jazzoo alcohol variance approved

 

February 16, 2020



CLOVIS — The animals of the Hillcrest Park Zoo have seen plenty from the people who travel the sidewalks of their residences, from Christmas light displays to Halloween crowds of kids.

They’re about to get a cocktail party, as the Clovis city commission approved a variance allowing Red Door Brewing to offer alcoholic beverages as part of the May 2 Jazzoo fundraiser.

The evening event was not without its critics, as it passed with a 5-3 vote following an explanation by event organizer Jenni Hanson.

The Jazzoo event, Hanson said, was created to raise money for a lion exhibit at the zoo and would provide donors a grownup night with jazz music, live and silent auctions and a perspective of the zoo they might not get during a normal daytime visit with the kids.

Zookeeper Vince Romero, joining Hanson at the lectern, said he was grateful for anybody willing to help the zoo, and didn’t believe such an event would upset the animals based on their reactions to events the zoo already hosts.

District 1 Commissioner David Robinson noted in 2019 Hillcrest Park hosted a food truck festival — also organized by Hanson — and an art show; both events included a variance to allow alcoholic beverage sales, and he had no issues with either one.

He countered no such event had been held at the zoo, and felt it bad optics to break tradition when a city entity is the beneficiary.

Robinson likened the scenario to creating a restrictive employee policy at Plateau, and then adding an exception for himself as CEO.

“I’m fully within my right to do that,” Robinson said, “but it’s bad leadership.”

Hanson noted that the fundraiser’s only revenue sources are auction proceeds and ticket sales, and that Red Door Brewing keeps the cash bar profits in exchange for its presence as a draw for partygoers who would like a beer or wine.

District 2 Commissioner Gary Elliott was curious as to how Red Door was always the name that popped up on alcohol-related waivers and if Hanson had financial ties to Red Door.

Other commissioners noted Red Door is so far the only brewer that has been active in such endeavors while other potential vendors are still setting up Main Street locations. Hanson said her only connection to Red Door was working with them during the 575 Foodie Fest in October and being satisfied with the job they did.

District 4 Commissioner Chris Bryant expressed wishes to have the event outside of the zoo. Hanson noted that the location was part of the draw.

“You have the second-biggest zoo in the state,” Hanson said. “We should highlight that and show what it means.”

Elliott, who has consistently been the lone dissenter on 7-1 votes against alcohol-related measures, brought up those votes as evidence alcoholic beverage dealers have already grown enough in the city.

“Why,” Elliott said, “does alcohol have to be involved in everything? Why can’t we just have soft drinks, coffee and cookies and have the kids there?”

Hanson said it sounded like Elliott was proposing a different event, and she’d gladly organize a family-friendly fundraiser if demand became evident.

“This,” Hanson said, “is more of a gala.”

District 2 Commissioner Sandra Taylor-Sawyer asked about security, and was told Red Door would handle those matters and that the serving area would be sealed off from the other portions of the fundraiser. District 3 Commissioner Helen Casaus thanked Hanson for her work in bringing events to the city, noting it sometimes felt like the city was still in the 1950s.

The dissenting votes came from Elliott, Robinson and Bryant.

 
 

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