LIHUE — A measure that would allow the sale of alcohol on Wailua Golf Course was passed on first reading by the Kauai County Council Wednesday, but some members of the public expressed concerns about promoting the intoxicant at a public facility.
“I do not approve. It sets a bad example (for children),” said Kauai resident Anne Punohu. “If we’re going to talk about one sport that needs alcohol to be amenable to our people, you’re opening a Pandora’s box.”
The measure was referred by a margin of 6-1 to the council’s Sept. 7 meeting for public testimony.
Councilman Gary Hooser, the sole no vote for the measure, said he has “serious concerns about going this direction.”
“One accident could wipe the thing out in terms of additional revenue for the county,” he said. “I don’t think that people should encourage (drinking), especially on a public golf course. Junior Golf is a huge part of the program out there I think we should support, and inadvertently sending a message that you can’t have fun, have a good time, without a drink.”
Council Vice-Chair Ross Kagawa introduced the measure to decrease illegal drinking at the public golf course as well as increase spending.
“As a golfer, it’s common knowledge that people bring their own beer and consume on the golf course,” Kagawa said. “If we had a vendor — like on a private golf course, selling alcohol to paying customers — they would monitor the illegal alcohol users.”
But unlike the private sector, Kauai resident Bruce Hart said the county and government are held to a higher standard in regards to liability.
“What’s going to happen if an intoxicated individual runs over with a golf cart another person?” Hart said. “I personally have witnessed on dozens of occasions people drinking in public parks and then driving away.”
Hart agreed with Punohu that having alcohol on the course sends the wrong message to youth.
The course has a restaurant where alcohol can be purchased, but it must be consumed inside the facility.
Councilman Mason Chock, who supported the measure on its first reading, said the county course needs to be competitive with private courses.
“We need to hear from our golfers; we need to hear from our people who use (the course), especially our youth community,” he said.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said she had concerns, but voted on the measure for a public hearing.
“I particularly like Annie’s reminder that young people are on the course,” she said. “I do think that input from the public is important: golfers as well as others.”
Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i said whether the measure is passed, the county needs to address what the current practice is as far as liability for vendors that sell alcohol.
“If we have a formal policy and then we had individual vendor or vendors responsible with the insurance, it’s a lot cleaner,” he said. “We probably have as much liability right now, maybe even more, than if we took action to create policy.”
Glenn Mickens said he doesn’t see how the sale of alcohol would be a means to increase participation.
“I think the police have enough problems with DUIs,” he said. “I understand that one beer is enough that alcohol will have an impact on coordination,” he said.