Madison Common Council passes Olbrich beer garden proposal

UPDATE (WKOW) -- The Madison Common Council has passed a proposal to have a privately-run beer garden at Olbrich Park.

The vote came after hours of debate, around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday. The council passed the resolution with a 12-7 vote.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison Common Council will soon soon decide whether the city will have a privately-run beer garden in Olbrich Park.The council is taking up the issue at a meeting Tuesday night. Right now, alcohol is banned at Olbrich, because of previous issues there. 

Developers of the project, called The Biergarten at Olbrich Park, spoke to alders at the meeting saying they've worked with community concerns and made changes since initially announcing plans. There is now a smaller capacity of 240 people and it would only run until 10 p.m. when the park closes.

"We're looking for a community gathering place. We'll make it safe, responsible and successful," says Mike Bare, co-owner of BKM Group, which would run the beer garden.

Dozens of people who live in the nearby neighborhood showed up to speak their minds. A majority were opposed to the idea, citing concerns over drinking, safety, increased traffic and transparency in the process."[My neighbors are] very concerned about the impact on the neighborhood," says Kathy Soukup, president of the Eastmoreland Community Association. "They wonder who will make sure safety concerns are addressed. They wonder who will, if the beer garden is successful, where will the extra cars go? Who will clear the park at night? They have a lot of questions and I don't have the answers to give them."Others who live in the area say they like the idea of a unique opportunity to make changes to Obrich Park.

"I think there's plenty of room for all different types of park users. I don't think this park is used for its full potential. There's plenty of times where we're the only people there," says neighbor Jessica Slind. "I think the park should be enjoyed by a wide variety of people in our area and I think this project could draw new people to this park, but I think also will enhance the visit of regular park goers."The Biergarten at Olbrich Park plans are designed off five similar beer gardens operating in Milwaukee County since 2012. Developers say those have brought money to the community and have been successful.

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