Liquor store approved next to day care

January 24, 2008 4:18:07 PM PST
There's a controversial plan to open a liquor store next door to a daycare center in the south suburbs. The daycare operator, parents and officials say they will fight the plan.

The day care is located in South Holland. The proposed liquor store would open next door, across the border in Dolton.

Some are hoping a state law prohibiting liquor stores from being located within 100 feet of a school or learning center will stop the store from opening its doors.

Seventy kids from the south suburbs spend the bulk of their waking hours at the day care, learning their ABCs, 123s and the rudiments of childhood social skills

But the teachers of NDLC fear they'll have to answer a lot of unsavory questions and curb kids' natural curiosity to shield them from the activity that is bound to present itself if a liquor store sets up.

"If I look over there, I know what can happen by a liquor store being there and a lot of people hanging out and drinking out in the parking lot, loud talk and cursing. And I would hate to find it near a daycare center because of my baby," said parent Roger Harris.

Harris' 2-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, will be taken out of the day care if Greenwood Liquors opens its doors. The site has been bought by John Argiropoulos, an Orland Park businessman who did not return calls seeking comment. In published reports, a relative says the store will be an upscale winery. But that's not good enough for one grandmother

"You wouldn't even want to find a loophole to warrant you putting a liquor store beside a daycare facility. We won't even talk about the high school on the other side of the street," said grandparent Marie Robinson.

Dolton mayor William Shaw, whose council approved a liquor license, also did not return calls. A son of his, Victor, has been identified in reports as the contractor hired to redevelop what used to be a family restaurant.

"It appears that, just recently, a liquor license was issued in error for a liquor store at that location because that facility, which has childcare as well as a day care, preschool and a kindergarten, meets the definition of the state law of a school," said J. Wynsma, South Holland village administrator.

NDLC's executive director vowed to fight the development. Mayor Shaw did not return her calls either, so she went to the Illinois Liquor Commission, who will to review the Greenwood Liquor's license next week in a public hearing.

"It's going to be hard to explain to a child who asks a lot of questions, 'What is it? Can we go there?'" said Dr. Medina Bailey, day care center director.

Dr. Bailey said she is going to turn the fight into getting rid of a proposed liquor store into a civics lesson for her students. She's going to take the students that go to the learning center every day and take them downtown to a liquor licensing hearing by the state of Illinois. That should happen Wednesday.