Monday, May 07, 2007

Debunking the Alcohol Myths

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.


N Mansfield said...

Have you taken a look at Slippery Rock recently? Have you noticed the increase in foot traffic after Ginger Hill and more notably, North Country Brewing, opened? Ginger Hill seems to draw more college students, however, there is a mix leaning toward 25+ at NCB. As far as i know, there has never been a problem with either of these establishments.

I would love to have a nice restaurant/pub open in downtown Grove City. I don't drink, but many of the friends i go out with enjoy having a beer or glass of wine with their meal. I'd love to be able to walk along the downtown streets, eat at restaurant and then visit the coffee shop while waiting for the movie at the theater to start.

Right now, there is nothing to draw me. I end up in Slippery Rock or some other area just about every weekend to have that atmosphere.

You really need to stop trying to force your values on everyone else. There is nothing wrong with a bar in town. You're not going to have a stripper club because there isn't the market for it.

Prohibition is over.

Rich Talbert said...

Yes, downtown SR looks beautiful. That is a major draw - but many stores note that the alcohol foot traffic isn't visiting the stores.

Also, yes - there are problems. Word is that Ginger Hill has had so many violations that they are one step from losing their license. And there was that major problem that spilled out from GH about a week ago.

Also - where would this mythical restaurant/pub go? With four churches downtown, there are no places within the 300-foot rule.

If you need alcohol for your atmosphere, then perhaps GC isn't the place for you. Since the town has always been dry, I would argue that the pro-alcohol folks are the ones forcing values on the town.

About a stripper bar - no market today...but what about in 5, 10, 15 years? They pop up in due time...

uscu2 said...

I'm a person who is driven largely as well by moral and family values. But news flash, that's not getting good strong families to move here. Have you seen the average age of the town? Have you heard the number of ambulances rolling through town? Have you seen the population of the town? Not exactly booming. The reason people move here is because they at the plant, USIS, or
he college. That about sums it up.

Not a whole lot of people working in Cranberry Township and saying, "I want to live in Grove City since it has great morals and is dry." It just doesn't work that way! Just like you mention that alcohol does not equal progress morals doesn't mean families move in.

I thought the churches had the right to exercise the 300 foot option? Obviously Tower will but will the other ones for sure? No one is "forcing their values" we voted for it, although in pathetically small numbers.

Assuming the restaurant can go downtown, or bar, it's not going to revitalize business. You can't polish a turd. It's going to take more than a pretty sign and a new light to get me to buy stuff downtown. Good products, customer service, and good value - that will want to make me visit businesses downtown. We should start with some tax relief or a break on utilities. They often have to pay nearly double what residential property does to heat or have a telephone line. Maybe if we help them out they could reinvest in, oh I don't know, better products?!?!

A bar in town doesn't equal "Then they’ll be driving through your neighborhood where your kids are playing." That's a scare tactic right there for three reasons:

1.) People now are driving to Elephant and Castle and driving home anyway over a much greater distance.

2.) People drink at the homes of friends all the time and then drive home. Through those same residential areas.

3.) Kids aren't playing in the street much after 10pm. If they are, you should do a little better job parenting them.

I think our police force, which has a chief of police who endorsed this idea, can handle two bars in town. That way they won't pull me over while driving in a yellow car at 1:30 while being responsible and taking my friend home who should not drive. I think they can manage watching people who leave a bar and that way they won't be pulling people over in a yellow car for fun.

So let's recap shall we:

1.) This town isn't young anymore.

2.) We could use some help getting people here. A fun place to hang out and watch a sports game while you have wings and a beer would be a draw to a young fellow such as myself. Right now my options are Subway or maybe I'll go see what's on sale at Trader Horn (or whatever the sign says it is today ... I think it's currently Rader Horn).

3.) Businesses need help in tax relief or utility relief.

4.) People are driving where you live after having been out to drink anyway. Don't be naive.

5.) The police can handle it.

6.) Let's be good parents and not let our kids play in the street after 10 (middle of happy hour currently at Elephant and Castle and when most people would leave a bar drunk if not later). While you're telling them the importance of playing in the yard, tell them that drinking and driving is bad. Problem solved.

That is all for now. Glad that tax "reform" got voted down though. Great site by the way, I love it.

Rich Talbert said...

People move here because it is a good place to raise a family.

- Low borough taxes
- Low crime
- Low pollution
- Lots of young families
- Great teachers in the school district

Facts are pesky things. Sure Grove City isn't booming, but it isn't aging, either. In the last 30 years of census taking, GC has only lost 3.5% of the population. The median age is 26.

GC borough council hasn't raised taxes in 25 years. It's only 4 mils.

As far as DUI traffic, not everyone from the outside bars drives through Grove City. Now we are welcoming increased DUI traffic to visit our bars and then drive home through the borough. And people don't eat dinner at 10:00, either. Besides - any DUI is bad...I don't care where they are coming/going.

You are obviously young and have no kids. It's amazing how much your eyes will be opened when you hit that stage of life. It's different. Very different.

And that's another reason why I don't want bars here. We spend thousands to tell kids to say "no" to drugs and alcohol. Now we are saying alcohol is the solution to problems. No thanks.

Grove City is a safe, affordable town with a great Christian tradition. Families are drawn here. I definitely wouldn't ever classify Grove City as a "turd."