By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS – The City Council discussed with the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday using the new city athletic complex for a wine and food festival in September.

The Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce has shown a lot of interest in using the new athletic complex as the venue for their first Central Texas Food and Wine Festival and has already filled out a permit for its use, said Jerry Bark, Harker Heights Parks and Recreation director.

The problem is that alcohol is not allowed in the park, Bark said.

"We would like to have that particular provision waved for the event," said Ted Smith, Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce board chairman, speaking to the City Council.

Bill Kozlik, chamber president, said that alcohol will not be the center of the festival but rather the food will be.

"A wine tasting has limited drinking," Kozlik said. "You can't just stand around drinking."

Also, the chamber's goal is to showcase a lot of the restaurants and caterers in the chamber and Harker Heights, Kozlik said.

"This will be great for them (the chamber members) because it gives the public an opportunity to see them in person," Kozlik said.

The chamber had looked at other venues for the festival, but nothing compared to the new athletic complex, Smith said.

"There is other venues we could do it at ... but they are not the feel we were looking for," Smith said. "The park really spurred this project."

The City Council didn't really have any problems with waving the alcohol provision, but wanted to make sure that Harker Heights business members and chamber members were going to be high priority.

"As a chamber event I would like it to bring value to the chamber members first," said councilman Bobby Hoxworth.

After making a decision like allowing the chamber to allow alcohol in the park, the council may hear similar requests from other organizations, said Steve Carpenter, city manager. There maybe a way to word an ordinance to accommodate for those requests and set guidelines, he added.

The City Council also appointed councilmen John Reider and Mike Aycock to a subcommittee devoted to working on economic development negotiations for a property located in the general area of the U.S. Highway 190 corridor between the western-most city boundary and Indian Trail after a closed meeting on the issue.

Contact Mason W. Canales at (254) 501-7554

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