By Barbara Wood
Special to the Almanac
Wedding bells will not be ringing in Atherton's Holbrook-Palmer Park next year, after a divided City Council on Wednesday night voted not to allow future bookings of large events in the park, despite a report from town staff saying the events would bring the financially-strapped town more than $85,000 in profit.
Classes and town-sponsored events and meetings will still be allowed in the park.
Councilman Jim Dobbie said his major objection to the events is the fact that they take up all the parking in the park, leaving none for residents, especially on weekends.
"For big events every spot is filled. I don't think that's the purpose of the park," Mr. Dobbie said.
Council member Kathy McKeithen said she had problems with the financial projections. "I looked at this report, and I said something doesn't seem right to me," she said.
She questioned whether all town costs were included in the report. "I'm not against other people using our park," she said. "But I am not in favor of having our taxpayer money subsidize people's weddings there."
But other council members said the town could use the money the events would generate.
"In this economic time we've slashed our budget -- we've laid off people," said council member Elizabeth Lewis. Even if the amount of profit was much less it would be "totally irresponsible" for the council not to go for it, she said. "Do the right thing for our residents," she urged.
Council members Jerry Carlson agreed with Ms. Lewis. "Right now it's additional money to offset the costs of the park," he said.
The vote was 3-2, with council members Mr. Dobbie, Ms. McKeithen and Mr. Widmer voting not to book large events in the park in 2012 and council members Ms. Lewis and Mr. Carlson voting to continue the bookings.