Fleischer Park (copy)

A Nogales firefighter pours a beer for a customer during the Independence Day festivities at Fleischer Park in 2017. While Councilman Marcelino Varona, Jr. has failed in his efforts to eliminate liquor sales from July 4 celebrations at the park, he successfully led the charge to reject a youth football program's bid to sell alcohol at a fundraiser there.

The Nogales City Council rejected a recommendation to issue a liquor license for a June 22 fundraising event at Fleischer Park for the Santa Cruz Cardinals, a countywide youth football team.

Marcelino Varona, Jr. was the first councilmember to voice opposition.

“My first concern is this is being presented from a resident of Rio Rico,” he said at the council’s June 5 meeting.

“You know how I feel about the liquor license,” added Varona, who earlier this year was the only councilmember to oppose a recommendation to issue a liquor license for the city’s Fourth of July celebration at Fleischer Park.

“Now, with people coming in that aren’t residents of Nogales to use our parks, and more liability for us, and this liquor license, I just, I just can’t support that,” he said.

Marcel Bachelier, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, told the council that he was not aware of plans for the event.

Nogales Police Officer Victor Hetherington, who was in the audience, offered to provide more information about the fundraiser.

He said that the Cardinals team includes youth players from Nogales and Rio Rico and that the event would include an adult flag football tournament and food and drink sales to raise money.

“The fundraising is for the kids, so they can buy equipment, have footballs, whatever they need,” Hetherington said.

Varona scolded the officer for his statement.

“I hope, Mr. Mayor, that a police officer and a school resource officer is not promoting this kind of activity, because I would be awfully disappointed,” Varona said. “I don’t know how you (Officer Hetherington) got into convincing yourself to come in to make that kind of clarification.”

Hetherington responded that he was not making any statement about alcohol sales, but that he knew about the event because his daughter plays football.

The council voted 4-3 against recommending issuance of the liquor license.

Varona was joined in opposing the recommendation by Mayor Arturo Garino and Councilmen Jorge Maldonado and Nubar Hanessian. Maldonado said he was concerned about the event’s impact on Fleischer Park, where a regional Little League baseball tournament is scheduled to start in July.

Councilmembers Esther Melendez-Lopez, Robert Rojas and Hector Bojorquez voted in favor of the recommendation.

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