Booze bill deferred

LIHUE — A bill aimed at allowing the sale of alcohol on the Wailua Golf Course was deferred Wednesday, giving officials time to answer insurance questions.

“This will give the county attorney more time to go over in detail the amount of our insurance coverage; to make sure the insurance the county has on their end is sufficient, or has to be increased,” said Councilman Ross Kagawa, who serves as chair of the Public Works and Parks and Recreation Committee.

Mauna Kea Trask, county attorney, said he needed about a month to make sure the insurance is comprehensively reviewed.

“I don’t see a reason in rushing toward a decision,” Kagawa said. “This is a big change; no other county in Hawaii has this at their golf course. We need to make sure we have a bill that is adequate and all councilmembers know all of the ramifications, including insurance costs.”

During the Public Works and Parks and Recreation Committee meeting, Trask said just as the golf course’s restaurant is required to indemnify the county, the proposed alcohol concessions would be responsible in paying the county for any negative circumstances that could happen as a result of alcohol consumption.

“If this bill passes, we would ensure that the contract would indemnify the county; it’s standard practice,” Trask said.

Bill No. 2635 seeks to allow alcohol to be sold at the Wailua Golf Course via “roving concessions.” The bill was passed 6-to-1 at first reading in August.

Currently, this is not allowed, and alcohol can only be consumed at the restaurant. But some golfers bring beer to the golf course anyway. Corey Aguana, owner of Over Par Snack Bar, said his staff has had to deny serving alcohol to some patrons.

“We see people coming into the restaurant already drunk, and we cannot serve them,” Aguana said.

On Wednesday, Councilman Mason Chock introduced an amendment to the bill, which will track the sale of alcohol by encouraging golfers to buy alcohol from the vendor.

“It’s a real touchy subject, what we’re dealing with here, and more comfortable with it after this amendment because it offers accountability,” he said.

But the bill won’t stop people from bringing their own alcohol, said Mel Rapozo, council chair.

So enforcement is key, he said.

“The day something happens — it doesn’t have to be a bad accident, it could be a fight, or anything — this county is going to get sued,” Rapozo said. “We cannot expect concessionaire’s insurance to cover it.”

Bill No. 2635 will be discussed again on Dec. 7.

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