CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council considered establishing open container nights for the next three weekends up through Labor Day weekend during their Tuesday, Aug. 18 meeting.
Council passed an ordinance in June allowing open container nights, but under that ordinance, the council had to establish specific dates and times and a specific area via resolution.
Mayor Steve Freel said that he thought it would be a good idea for the city to allow the open container nights during the next three weekends in order to get a better sense of any issues that may need to be addressed if the open container nights are allowed on a more regular basis next summer.
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Councilman Mike Huber said he was in favor of the open container concept, but that he thought council should hold off until next summer.
“I think this is a good idea,” he said. “This is just simply not the year to be encouraging these type of activities.”
Huber pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic and said the open container events might lead to a situation which exacerbates concerns about spreading the virus.
“I do not see enough of our population taking personal responsibility,” Huber said, pointing to “very risky behavior” such as people not wearing face coverings and ignoring social distancing guidelines.
Councilman Charlie Powell agreed with Huber’s view. Freel, however, said that the Casper-Natrona County Health Department had given approval to allow a large concert with up to 1,000 attendees during Labor Day weekend.
Freel argued that if the health department thought it was acceptable to allow that concert to move forward, then the open container nights wouldn’t offer cause for greater concern.
Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz said that this information about the large Labor Day weekend concert receiving approval from the health department changed her vote on the resolution. She had initially indicated she would oppose it.
Councilman Ken Bates expressed concern about overtime police costs that could come with the overtime concerts. The city estimated up to $7,600 in such costs associated with allowing the open container nights for the next three weekends.
Freel pointed out that this was a worst case scenario and that if the events do not cause substantial issues, that much police overtime may not be needed.
Councilman Shawn Johnson said that he supported passing the resolution.
“We’ve already experimented with [open container] during the eclipse and it worked out perfectly,” he said.
Freel noted that if there are substantial problems associated with the open container nights, the council could decide to shut them down.
The council passed the resolution during their meeting on Tuesday.
Under the ordinance the council passed in June, open containers may be allowed in a set area from the Friday preceding Memorial Day through Labor Day of each calendar year.
With three weekends left this summer for this window, city staff drafted the resolution based on recommendations from Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters.
The open container nights established under the resolution are as follows:
- 5-10 pm Aug. 21-22
- 5-10 pm Aug. 28-29
- 5-10 pm Sept. 4-7
City staff will mark the open container area during those dates and times. The area will include:
- West Yellowstone Highway (starting at Yellowstone Garage) stretching along East Second Street (ending at the Himalayan Restaurant)
- both sides of the street
- sidewalks only
- South Ash Street (starting at West Yellowstone Highway stretching south to The Office Bar and Grill
- on the west side of the street
- sidewalk only
The following map shows the open container area:
No open containers will be permitted outside of the above area. Liquor establishments participating in the open container nights will be required to provide wristbands to anyone who wants to take their drinks outside.
People will not be allowed to bring their own alcohol downtown, but will rather have to obtain alcohol from participating establishments.
Businesses with retail, distillery or microbrewery liquor permits will be able to participate if they are in the area. However, restaurant and bar and grill liquor license holders will not be able to participate unless they pull special permits.
If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:
Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 259-1276
Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 359-3673
Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 577-6042
Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 337-5057
- (307) 277-7377
Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 473-1247
Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 262-8237
Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 472-1837
Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 266-4188
Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 258-1226
Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601
If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.