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Germanfest 2018 (copy)

Steins of beer are filled and bought at the beer truck at German Fest in Downtown Racine last June. The city is debating permitting glass mugs in city parks, paving the way for beer festivals and pop-up beer gardens planned for the parks this summer.

RACINE — City officials are debating permitting glass mugs in parks, paving the way for beer festivals and pop-up beer gardens planned for this summer.

The city’s ordinances currently ban glassware in public parks and other public spaces to avoid having broken glass on the ground. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Public Safety and Licensing Committee, City Administrator Jim Palenick said a proposed change would, very specifically, allow city-sanctioned beer gardens and craft beer festivals to offer commemorative glass mugs.

“Obviously people aren’t looking to break that glass,” said Palenick. “With what you have to pay for the container, people are definitely not trying to break it.”

John and Sharon Martinoff of the Racine Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps spoke before the committee. The organization is considering relocating the Great Lakes Brew Fest to Festival Hall, where the event initiated, but no final decision has been made.

They said the event had some issues with broken glass in the beginning but has worked out systems to help patrons store or hang glasses around their necks and for quickly cleaning up broken mugs.

The committee voted to send the motion to the City Council with a recommendation to approve. The next step would be for the City Attorney’s Office to write the amended ordinance, which would go through another round of approvals from the committee and the full council. Final approval may not happen until April.

Parks Department Director Tom Molbeck said his department is still in the early planning phases for the pop-up beer gardens next summer.

Molbeck said he would like to see beer gardens at Island Park, 1700 Liberty St.; Lakeview Park, 201 Goold St.; and Lincoln Park, 2200 Domanik Drive. But that, he said, is contingent on feedback from whichever contractor the city decides to work with to organize and run the events. The department is finalizing a request for proposals to find a vendor to partner with on the project.

Pop-up beer gardens have proven to be popular amenities at Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park in Franksville and at Smolenski Park in Mount Pleasant, as has a permanent seasonal beer garden at Petrifying Springs Park in Somers.

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Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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