Sunday alcohol sales put to voters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sunday alcohol sales put to voters

November 4, 2002

Albany - For the second time in 11 years, Albany voters will decide whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales. Albany resident, Robin Bartlett, says, "I think there's as many against it as those for it. A heated debate. It's a hot race."

Will Sunday Alcohol sales be approved by Albany voters? It was in 1991 that people in Albany overwhelmingly voted down Sunday alcohol sales. And it remains an emotional issue for this city with both sides putting up good arguments. So which side will be the majority voice this time around?

A Sunday alcohol sale referendum for hotels and restaurants was sparked by future visitor attractions, like the River Front Project in Albany. The Vice President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Richard Bivins, says, "As a visitors stand point, it's hard to go out and sell Albany and compete with Macon."

Bivins' job is to get visitors to Albany. He researched other cities like Columbus and Macon, they have alcohol sales on Sundays. He explains, "They had no problem, minor things, but as far as being more crime and more alcohol abuse, has not happened. They had not seen it."

The Albany Holiday Inn also made calls to sister hotels. Managers say Sunday sales encourages conventions. General Manager, Faye Stockes, says, "We've talked to them. Things have been brought in specifically because of that reason."

But, what are other voters thinking? Robin Bartlett says, "No doubt it probably would bring in more money, but I don't think that's necessary growth income we need." Cassie Flack says, "I don't see where it will hurt. It will boost our economy." Jo Ellen Morris says, "I'm voting no and I hope that everybody goes out and votes no. No one votes yes for money."

The referendum includes only Albany restaurants and hotels that generate 50 percent of their profit from food or rental of rooms.

If voters pass the alcohol referendum tomorrow, it will take a city commission vote to make it law. Albany City Attorney, Al Grieshaber, explains, "Board of Commissioners wanted to put it before voters. It's a controversial issue, so the Board of Commissioners voted to let the voters decide rather than the board itself."

If voters decide yes, Sunday sales could go into effect as early as November 27th.

posted at 6:09PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com