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Mt. Pleasant council committee backs alcohol sales for park fishermen

Mt. Pleasant council committee backs alcohol sales for park fishermen

If the Mount Pleasant Town Council approves alcohol sales at the Memorial Waterfront Park pier, a permit still would be needed.

MOUNT PLEASANT -- Popping open a cold one while wetting a line at the town pier has gained the favor of at least three Town Council members.

The Council Economic Development Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to allow alcoholic beverages at the Memorial Waterfront Park pier.

Mayor Pro-Tem Paul Gawrych supported the idea along with fellow committee members Nick Collins and Elton Carrier. There was discussion of a restaurant at the pier, but that was tabled for now.

The committee recommendation goes to Town Council on Tuesday.

Charleston County Park and Recreation Executive Director Tom O'Rourke told the committee that the PRC staff favors the idea. PRC manages the pier under a contract with the town.

"The fishermen want to drink a beer," O'Rourke said.

The beer, however, would have to be purchased at the pier snack and gift shop. And it would have to be consumed on the pier.

The PRC staff will present the proposal along with the results of the council vote to the PRC

Commission, he said.

The state would approve or deny a permit application after advertising it and reviewing any public comments.

The pier, which opened in July 2009, has yet to turn a profit, but that was expected, officials said. It lost $100,000 in its first budget year, which ended in June, and alcoholic beverage sales could boost slow revenue. "We're not at all concerned about the negative numbers," O'Rourke said.

Pier revenue comes from fishing passes, rod rentals, tackle sales and food, beverage and gift items.

The PRC recommended an application for a Monday-through-Saturday alcohol sales permit, because a Sunday permit is more costly. The council committee voted in favor of seeking a permit for every day.

"I'm all for this. Why don't we do the seven days?" Gawrych said.

The permit would likely be for beer and wine, Gawrych said.

Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said alcohol sales won't affect public safety because the town has security cameras and a police presence at the pier and park.

Alcohol is allowed at the pier for special events. If an alcohol sales permit is obtained, it would be issued for the PRC at its River Watch Cafe and Gift Shop at the foot of the pier.

Folly Beach pier allows alcohol if it is purchased at the Locklear's restaurant on the pier.

The Mount Pleasant pier is 1,250-feet long, which makes it slightly longer than the Folly Beach pier. Lopped-off pilings from the old John P. Grace Memorial Bridge provided the foundation for the Waterfront Park pier, which extends to near the shipping channel and offers dramatic views of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and passing cargo ships.

The view from the pier ranges from the aircraft carrier Yorktown to the Charleston waterfront to Remley's Point. The pier has an 8,100-square-foot covered pavilion for dances and other events, as well as shaded bench swings.

The Mount Pleasant park is the second municipal park to open on the Cooper River. North Charleston Riverfront Park on the former Charleston Naval Base has a contemporary Performance Pavilion and Grand Lawn.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.

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