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Jewel-Osco Liquor License Decision Postponed

by Sonya Jongsma Knauss

The decision on whether to grant a liquor license to the Jewel-Osco just west of Holton on Capitol has been postponed after several meetings last month where neighborhood residents expressed disapproval. Because of increased interest in the issue, a neighborhood meeting has been called for May 7 at 7 p.m. (see letter from Ald. Mike D’Amato, page 2) at the Gordon Park Pavilion. This is where residents will have a chance to make their opinions known. At the Licensing Committee meeting on May 21, even though it is a public meeting, testimony will only be taken from Ald. D’Amato and Jewel-Osco. After that meeting, aldermen will make their recommendation to the Council. The Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) crafted a covenant neither approving nor disapproving of the liquor license, but asking Jewel-Osco to be a good neighbor and avoid selling certain products if it did go ahead with the licensing application. The RNA regularly sends out agendas for its meetings in an effort to make neighbors aware of issues that are being discussed. The RNA, which is open to all neighborhood residents, reached consensus and approved the covenant two months ago. Among other provisions, the covenant asks the large grocery chain to sell local products such as Bella Luna pasta and Lakefront beer. The covenant was signed by co-chairs of the RNA and representatives of Jewel-Osco. Later, at the packed licensing meeting downtown, many neighbors showed up to weigh in against the proposed liquor license for the grocery store. A subsequent neighborhood association meeting also turned out a large crowd and left some neighbors with a bitter taste in their mouths. One person called the RNA meeting “disheartening” and said it felt like antagonistic and disrespectful comments were directed toward individuals who had been working hard to achieve what they thought was best for Riverwest. Other neighbors expressed concern that they had been not been adequately notified of the issue and had been left out of the decision-making process. The issue will be decided in a Common Council vote on June 4. The meeting will be open to the public as all Council meetings are; however, the public is not allowed to speak. Anyone wanting to influence the outcome of this meeting is encouraged to attend the May 7 meeting at the Gordon Park Pavilion. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 4 – May 2002