Buzzkill on The 400 Block?

The 400 Block

The 400 Block

City officials are one step closer to banning alcohol at The 400 Block in downtown Wausau, with the exception of special events.

The Public Health & Safety Committee on Monday approved a resolution to change the rules in an effort to combat problem drinkers who repeatedly cause problems at the park. When the idea to limit drinking on the square first came up in a May meeting, Council President Lisa Rasmussen and Mayor Rob Mielke pledged to examine a variety of solutions. Those ranged from table sponsorship by downtown businesses to a permit system similar to what most Fox Valley communities have in place.

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Mayor Mielke

Mayor Mielke

The committee didn’t discuss potential alternatives. Instead they considered three options for The 400 Block: restricting alcohol before 4 pm, banning alcohol completely, or banning alcohol at all city parks.

The committee voted 4-1 to recommend prohibiting alcohol consumption at The 400 Block with exception of Concerts on the Square and other events that require a permit.

Related: Concerts on the Square photo gallery

Alderman Romey Wagner led the charge, saying the ban would allow Wausau to “take back The 400 Block” and return the downtown to its “Norman Rockwell” charm. “I am not afraid of having public opinion against me on this,” Wagner says.

Alderman Pat Peckham was the lone holdout, expressing concern the ban would go “too far too fast.” Mayor Mielke, who in March told City Pages he was in favor of eliminating beer fence regulations altogether at fairs and festivals, says he supports the change. “For the record, I am not a buzzkill,” Mielke insists.

The full council will vote on the measure July 12. If approved, the ban would take effect immediately.