Bronzeville residents push for law to reduce liquor sales

November 22, 2010 (CHICAGO)

There will be a referendum on the February ballot unless there is a successful objection.

In a neighborhood steeped with a rich history, some are trying to rebuild and restore the Bronzeville's reputation by reducing liquor sales.

"The impact of those stores in terms of increased loitering, public drinking, litter," said Ald. Pat Dowell.

Alderman Dowell is working with some concerned residents to get a referendum to ban liquor sales of any individual containers stronger than four-percent alcohol. She says most liquor stores have signed agreements to stop carrying the products with high alcohol content -- with the exception of two stores.

"I don't think voting precincts dry is the blanket answer," said Dowell. "To me, it's a last resort and we've reached a point with these particular liquor establishments that we have to move in this direction."

Members of Apostolic Faith Church collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot. The church is across the street from Rothschild liquor store on Pershing.

"These stores open very early in the morning. They serve liquor so there are people loitering around in the store of they're drinking early. The high school is right there. There's a daycare center. It really is a problem," said Bishop Horace Smith, Apostolic Faith.

The other store targeted by the referendum seekers -- Calumet Food and Liquor -- is on 43rd Street.

Some residents say problems in the community stem from too few youth programs, jobs and treatment for addictions. They say the problems won't be solved by cutting liquor sales.

"There's nothing for people to do. There's no centers for the youth to go to. When I grew up, we have places to go where we could have fun," said Geno Williams.

"It's okay to have a liquor store. You don't have to close it down just 'cause people are buying the liquor," said Madonna Davis.

"Let's redevelop. Let's work here. We can identify work here. It changes the culture," said Cyd Langston.

The manager's of the two stores declined comment but say the businesses have been part of community for decades and employ people in the neighborhood. It will be up to voters in February whether they will have to alter their business plans.

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