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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, December 09, 2023
In May, Olbrich park will likely gain a new addition: an outdoor alcohol area called “The Biergarten”.

In May, Olbrich park will likely gain a new addition: an outdoor alcohol area called “The Biergarten”.

Beer garden plan passes city council despite community backlash, long debate

After over six hours of debate and public comment, Madison’s city council voted Tuesday to allow a beer garden in Olbrich Park.

A warm-weather dream entitled “The Biergarten” is one step closer to reality after the council’s decision to grant BKM Group a liquor license and use agreement for a small portion of the East Side Madison park.

The beer garden intends, according to its application, to provide a gathering space where community members can “enjoy the beautiful view, or bring a meal and share in a picnic while also enjoying some local beer.”

Community members have differing opinions on the installation of the private company in a public park. Those in favor of the decision are excited to see the park used by a wide range of residents and claim that none of the activities they use the park for now will be impacted.

Eastmoreland resident Bill Adolfson said his wife and children look forward to spring in the park. The beer garden, he says, will only enrich it.

While support exists, debate in the months leading up to the meeting resulted in an overflow of opposition during public comment.

Among community concerns are safety and noise; some wish to further restrict BKM’s limit on amplified sound, currently limited to Fridays and Saturdays between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Many residents also expressed worries that patrons of the beer garden may become too intoxicated and damage their property, and others were upset over the idea of the beer garden being open every day of the week.

Kathy Soukup, president of the Eastmoreland Community Association and community member, stood in opposition to the beer garden.

“I am concerned that if there is a problem in the beer garden or in the park, there won’t be anyone who can respond,” said Soukup. “There are not enough police resources to take care of non-emergency calls. There are only three park rangers per shift who cover the 300 parks in Madison. The beer garden staff cannot do anything about a situation unless it is taking place within the beer garden.”

Mike Bare, a BKM investor and manager of the beer garden, claimed the tradition of beer drinking is nothing new to Madison, citing the Memorial Terrace as proof. Bare also highlighted changes to the business plan that were made in response to concerns of residents.

“We have addressed many concerns and have made significant adjustments to the plan. There is certainly virtue in compromise,” said Bare.

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Nearly two hours past midnight, the plan passed in a 12-seven vote.

The Biergarten at Olbrich Park plans to open by May.

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