New city committee takes on drink-limit proposals

Ordinance would ban all-you-can-drink specials

A new city committee is meeting to address binge drinking in La Crosse.

The Alcohol Working Committee will take up proposals limiting certain drink specials in La Crosse establishments at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

A proposal a few months ago from former City Council Member Bob Seaquist suggested limiting drink specials, including unlimited drinking for a set price and three-for-one specials, along with games encouraging drinking.

Just out of college, Kaitlyn Steger and Jenna Dokken are both fans of multiple drinks for a fixed price deals and wristband nights, where for a set price, you get unlimited drinks.

“I think it keeps the environment alive down here,” Steger said.

At Stein Haus, they don’t offer that kind of deal, but owner Chris Stolpa said limiting what bars can offer and banning drinking games would hurt business and not address the problem.

“By taking that away, people are going to be more likely to sit at home, and can still drink as much as they want and make mistakes,” he said. “I think all the small businesses agree it’s just going to hurt us, and not going to help anybody.”

Old Crow Bar manager Kayla Delain said while they don’t offer deals like wristbands, bars with the same owner, State Room and Animal House, do.

“It would definitely affect some of the other bars we’re affiliated with, and might have a negative impact, which I wouldn’t be happy about,” she said.

Most, however, can agree binge-drinking is an issue.

“From the law enforcement perspective, we aren’t in a place to be pushing for one type of legislation to go one way or another,” La Crosse police Capt. Jason Melby said. “However, in the event that something like limiting the all-you-can-drink specials were to go through as piece of legislation, from the law enforcement perspective, anything that makes alcohol consumption more responsible in the community is going to help us, in everything from drunk driving to emergency room visits to disorderly conduct that comes along with successive alcohol consumption.

City Council member Gary Padesky is heading up the Alcohol Working Committee’s first meeting.

“A lot of people think it’s terrible there’s all-you-can-drink specials, others think it’s terrible the government would tell a business how to run their business,” he said.

Padesky is not sure the proposed ordinances would help but hopes both sides can find a compromise.

“I’m hoping we can keep everything calm,” he said. “I know this is going to be an emotional subject.”

The meeting will take place on the third floor of City Hall.

Padesky encourages the public to attend to offer input, and said he hopes the committee will only have to meet two or three times to come up with a compromise.