Wailua Golf Course cleared to sell alcohol, revocable permit bill killed

LIHUE — The Wailua Golf Course will soon be able to sell alcohol to players on the links.

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday voted 6-1 to pass Bill No. 2635 allows the sale of alcohol via roving concessions.

Mel Rapozo, council chair, was the lone dissenting voice, saying he’s worried about extra liability the county would take on as the result of allowing alcohol to be sold at the county-owned facility.

“I did a lot of research, and no other county-owned golf course allows the sale of alcohol for liability reasons. To me, that’s important,” he said.

While supporters of the measure say it will improve business for the concessionaire, Over Par Bar and Grill, Rapozo argued the owner knew of the limitations when he signed the lease.

“I don’t think the sale of alcohol will make a difference in the concessionaire’s success or failure,” he said.

Instead of focusing on selling alcohol, the concessionaire should try to sell items like sandwiches, smoothies, juice and soda, Rapozo said.

Golfers have been able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage at the restaurant. Supporters of the bill say that because golfers already bring and drink alcohol on the course, the bill would allow for better regulation.

“We’re putting it in the jurisdiction of a licensed alcohol provider,” said Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.

The sale of alcohol could open the space up for private events, like parties and weddings, said Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro.

“This not only offers an additional amenity, but it will also allow us to do bigger and better things,” he said. “It expands the opportunity to be successful.”

Also on Wednesday, the council unanimously voted to kill a bill that would allow vendors to set up shop on county streets.

The action came at the request of the administration, who said they wanted to re-write the bill after getting further input from community members.

Bill No. 2628 will allow people, through a revocable permit, to set up shop on county-owned streets during events like Kapaa First Saturday and Hanapepe Art Night. If passed, the bill would give organizers of events control over who sets up and where.

But Rapozo expressed concern about giving another entity the power to have a say in what happens with county-owned streets.

“I’m worried about excluding people from participating,” he said. “(There shouldn’t) be one blanket permit that gives people the right to tell a resident they can’t participate.”

As it was written, the bill would have provided the same guidelines for every event, but some councilmembers said it should spell out individual regulations because every event is different.

“I don’t think it’s a one size fits all,” said Councilman Ross Kagawa. “I don’t want to see us pass a bill and get a lot of complaints. We need to be cautious and do it the right way.”

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