At the Oct.5, 2010 Albany City Commissioners meeting an agenda item came up for approval of a liquor store permit (Jax Package Store) at 301 East Oglethorpe Blvd. One of the supporting justifications given was that there are several nearby counties that do not allow the sale of liquor. This creates a natural market for Albany. By adding the liquor store the tax dollars would increase. The site also meets the qualifications of code enforcement
However, according to the Albany City Code; Article III. Licenses; Section 6-74. Qualifications #9, “For a location not suitable in the judgment and discretion of the board of city commissioners because of traffic congestion, general character of the neighborhood or by reason of the effect which such an establishment would have on the adjacent and surrounding properties, or on the neighborhood.”
Research shows that corner stores, mini-markets, and 7-11s often have an abundant supply of beer, wine and cigarettes as these are the products that bring higher profit margins. These stores add to the higher density of liquor outlets found in low income neighborhoods of color. In addition liquor stores in these communities typically sell alcohol chilled and in larger containers ready for immediate consumption, on a street corner, in a nearby park or in a motor vehicle. These drinking patterns are more likely to result in excessive drinking, public drunkenness, automobile crashes and physical violence. These stores often act as a magnet for illegal activity and gathering places for loiterers, drug dealers and prostitutes.
A recent study depicts east Albany as a distressed poverty stricken community. It is almost entirely African American, 91 percent and 8 percent white. For black households, the poverty rate is 48 percent, almost 8 times greater than the poverty rates for white households of 6.2 percent. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any middle class professional people in East Albany. I am sure you can find productive, well meaning citizens who own their homes and are protective of their property. But they are in the minority; the majority, unfortunately, falls within the ranks of poverty. Why create another barrier by putting in a well stocked package store to dazzle the community of impoverished people and young college students?
A single bridge over the Flint River is the only link between Albany and east Albany; consequently the latter has deep feelings of alienation and powerlessness. I wonder if Horace King, the great African American bridge builder knew that what he was constructing would one day be used to cause a cultural divide.
I strongly believe that the quality of life of a neighborhood should transcend city code measurements, tax revenue and business profits. Therefore I would recommend to the city commissioners to use their sound judgment and discretionary powers to deny the request for an alcohol permit at 301 E. Oglethorpe Blvd. I urge the concerned citizens of East Albany and the city as a whole to join me and others at the Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010 at 8 p.m., City Commission meeting and let them know we don’t need another liquor outlet in east Albany. Do it for the sake of our young people if nothing else.