Owner Says Council Statements About Beer Delivery To Freeman Park Are False

Owner Says Council Statements About Beer Delivery To Freeman Park Are False Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 19 November 2014 05:00

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH  - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted earlier this month to restrict the number of camp sites within the popular Freeman Park on the northern end of Pleasure Island. The Council voted to make other regulatory changes including banning the delivery of beer to the park.
John Childers - owner of the Brew Thru in Carolina Beach - took issue with statements made during that meeting regarding beer deliveries by his company.
Childers explained to the Council on November 11th that he was not able to attend the November 10th, Council meeting when the vote was taken to ban beer deliveries.
Freeman Park is a popular destination in the summer. Owners of four-wheel drive vehicles can pay a fee to drive on the beach and camp overnight.
He explained, "I was unable to attend the town council meeting this week and I just finished watching the footage from the meeting. I was appalled at the inaccurate information on beer delivery that was presented at the meeting as fact.  You not only accused us of unethical business practices, but also illegal activity.  This is unacceptable and unprofessional, and could cause irreparable damage to our business reputation."
Childers explained, "If you planned on discussing our business practices at this meeting you should have made yourselves well informed on our delivery process, business hours, and our strict adherence to alcohol laws both in store and on Freeman Park. We have been in business on Carolina Beach since 2009 and we have been delivering to Freeman Park since 2010 and we have never had a single violation or infraction against our business.  We have several points where inaccurate information was presented that need to be addressed from the meeting."
He explained, "First the town manager Michael Cramer stated that one of the major issues with delivery is that deliveries were occurring between the hours of 10pm and 1am. Then the police chief Kenneth Hinkle stated that his officers have observed deliveries taking place between 1am and 2am. This is flat out false.  Our last delivery goes out at 9pm and our business closes at 12am. There is no way that anyone from our business is making deliveries in the "wee" hours of the morning. We have also stopped deliveries early on holiday weekends if we have felt that things were getting too crowded or out of hand on Freeman Park."
He explained, "It was also said that we do not have a robust method of checking ID's on Freeman Park.  It suggested by both council and the police chief that we were not diligent in checking IDs and possibly selling to minors.  That is also flat out false. We have a strict policy for ID checking both in store and on Freeman Park.  Deliveries are always called in and paid for by credit card then cross checked with IDs on site before beer is handed over. If valid IDs cannot be provided the beer is returned to the store and the card is immediately refunded.  All deliveries are made in accordance with ALE requirements. It was also suggested that eliminating beer delivery would not increase the number of citations for DUI coming off Freeman Park.  It was said that looking at current citations this area is not as big of a problem as other areas.  We feel that our beer delivery does help in preventing people from driving off to get more alcohol and that is one of the reasons for the smaller number of occurrences coming off Freeman Park."
Childers concluded, "If you would like to ban beer deliveries on Freeman Park we would appreciate you doing so for factual and valid reasons.  None of the reasons given at the town council meeting had any ounce of truth to back them up. We also would like for these points to be publicly cleared up and an apology issued for accusing us of unethical and illegal business practices."
On Monday November 17th, Town Manager Michael Cramer responded to a request for comment from the Island Gazette. He explained, "I have talked to Mr. Childer's and apologized that our conversation about alcohol on Freeman Park was taken as an attack on The Brew Thru.  The Chief of Police and I were speaking from observational comments of others in the community.  I did mention that we did not have statistical information to back up the perception and that we regret that we did not reach out to Mr. Childer's before the meeting.  I have discussed this topic with council members and I believe the decision to not allow sanctioned deliveries of alcohol was based on the council's desire to improve over crowding and alcohol consumption on Freeman Park and should not be taken as a negative statement of The Brew Thru's business."
Mayor Dan Wilcox explained, "As Mayor, I would like to apologize to Mr. Childers for any comments or representations made by select council or staff members that he feels may have reflected poorly on his business. I do not believe that was the intent of the discussions, but in hindsight, if I were in his shoes I would likely share his concern. "
Wilcox wrote, "When I previously served on council, we approved beer deliveries to Freeman Park for two reasons. The first reason was to decrease traffic on an already crowded Canal Drive. We felt that one vehicle making several trips up Canal Drive was better than a much greater number of vehicles running back and forth for beer and other basic needs, like ice, food, fishing tackle, etc."
He explained, "The second reason was to avoid creating incentive for folks to drive if they had already been drinking, even if they were driving “under the legal consumption limit”. We felt anything we could do to discourage driving after “any” drinking would be a beneficial policy from a public safety perspective. I still generally believe those two considerations have merit, however, the reason council voted unanimously to discontinue beer deliveries was based solely on an overarching desire to rein-in activities that have been causing the primary behavioral issues, most of which are related to “over-beveraging”. Therefore, while I believe council’s decision was based on factors unrelated to Mr. Childers company’s delivery practices, I do apologize for any comments or representations that were inaccurate or misleading."
Council member Leanne Pierce explained on Monday, "I have no issue with the vendor. I think drinking and overcrowding is a big part of the problem on Freeman Park."
During the November 10th, meeting Police Chief Ken Hinkle said people bring their own alcohol and when they run out, they often call to have more delivered to the park. Several residents complained earlier this year at a Council workshop that delivery of alcohol leads to people consuming too much alcohol and underage drinking.
Frequent park visitor and New Hanover County resident James Mathis commented at the November 10th, meeting that he worked for Domino's Pizza on the Island for many years and also worked for the Brew Thru on Lake Park Blvd. He said contrary to statements made about Brew Thru delivering alcohol at one or 2AM in the morning, that's not possible since they take the last orders at around 9PM and are not open at 2AM.
Mathis explained, "I was the guy taking beer out there and I checked every single ID. The owner of Brew Thru takes his permits seriously and I highly doubt that he is delivering beer to anybody under age."
Mathis said he's worked with people to help clean the dunes and even though he's not a citizen of Carolina Beach, he has a right to speak on the issue.
Mathis said he's been going to the park area since before it was a park when he was in his teens. He questioned why the Town would pass new rules when they often can't enforce the ones they currently have. He said if he's with friends and they decide at the spur of the moment to visit the park at 8PM and sit on the beach by a fire, and, "If I have to get on my phone or computer at 8PM and register for a permit and pay
$10 to do something that I've doing for years at the drop of a hat, I'm going to be pretty upset about it. My brother already said if most of these changes are enforced he's not going to buy a season pass and I don't know that I will either."


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