On Tuesday, May 15, PA will hold its primary elections.
Grove City residents will decide whether or not they want to turn the borough into a wet town, allowing the sale of alcohol on a drink-by-drink basis.
We already know about the dangers of alcohol to your physical, emotional and spiritual self. In the past several weeks, there have been some myths and falsehoods spread about concerning the alcohol referendum itself. Here are some of the myths.
“Alcohol equals progress” myth: Words mean things. That is why the pro-alcohol folks have latched onto the word progress. Who would vote against progress? Facts do get in the way, though.
The April 2007 issue of the non-partisan Pennsylvania Borough News (PBN) magazine noted that wet and dry boroughs are statistically the same. They wrote “per capita income and housing values were nearly identical as were poverty rates, immigration rates, and taxes. In addition, dry boroughs had higher rates of home ownership.” Where’s the progress?
“If you serve it, they will come” myth: Some argue that more young people will move to the area if there are more trendy alcohol establishments. PBN magazine found that “dry boroughs had a higher percentage of youth and a lower percentage of senior citizens…and higher percentages of households with children.” In other words, if you want a youthful borough with a strong family base, keep the borough dry.
“Wettest dry town” myth: People drink in their own homes and vets drink at their private clubs, but Grove City is not alone. There are a whopping 690 dry municipalities across the commonwealth. Of those, there are 210 dry boroughs that still allow alcohol sales within the town limits. All boroughs allow vets’ clubs to serve alcohol. No one is trying to keep alcohol from homes, but Grove City residents have traditionally voted to keep it from spilling into the streets.
“GC Council can control who gets the license” myth: The council has absolutely no control over who gets the two automatic licenses. The first two that get past the Liquor Control Board get the license. We can only beg and hope that the LCB allows two upscale restaurants. They might grant two stripper bars instead. Either way, the borough has no control – we give up our sovereignty to determine what happens within our city. Do you want the LCB to determine who sets up shop in Grove City, or do you want residents to make those choices?
“GC Council can control where the licenses are granted” myth: The council has no authority to make a special alcohol zone. We can only put them in residential, commercial or industrial zones – and the borough has lots of housing in each zone. Would you want a bar next to your house? I can’t imagine anyone would like the noise until 2:00 am. Would you want your Grove City neighbor to suffer thorough that?
“No one would open a dive bar in Grove City” myth: Perhaps we wouldn’t see a stripper bar or dive bar open right away, but what about in five, ten or fifteen years? I can’t imagine any town became wet just to become a dumping ground for dive bars, but they happen. There are scores of towns all over western PA that were once beautiful, but over time, for whatever reasons, became dumpy. Alcohol sales are a great catalyst for such a change.
“Downtown anchor restaurant” myth: Alcohol establishments have a 300-foot barrier to keep them away from churches, schools, playgrounds and charitable organizations. There are three (with a possible fourth) churches downtown. Where would this anchor restaurant go? They need a large footprint for serving space and parking. Those trendy spots (Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, etc) also require a ton of traffic. That is why you see them near large urban centers and not in small towns. A wet license won’t bring one here, period. You’ll notice how they aren’t even setting up shop at the outlet mall. There isn’t enough traffic there, either. They can’t even get a Bob Evans.
“Restricting free enterprise” myth: The Libertarian part of me doesn’t think we should limit the chances for businesses to grow. The Conservative part of me sees where an alcohol establishment can quickly challenge public safety. If someone gets a drink at a mythical anchor restaurant, they have to go home eventually. They’ll be getting into their cars right when the alcohol is entering their bloodstream. Then they’ll be driving through your neighborhood where your kids are playing. Clearly, this isn’t healthy for the safety of the town.
Pro-alcohol folks want you to think of alcohol as progress. Economically, it does virtually nothing. It is nothing more than a hindrance. Facts show that it damages and drives out families, which in turn slowly kills the town. Families come here because of the quality of life in our town, and once the town turns wet, it will be exceedingly hard to become dry again.
Grove City is not a dying town. We have over 200 years of tradition based upon a strong set of moral values. We are a charming, religious, and safe small town. We didn’t need to be a wet town for the first two centuries and we don’t need it to be a strong Grove City in the future.