TenHaken: 'Decentralizing' alcohol sales first step in solving Pettigrew Heights crime dilemma
'I’m not expecting that we cure 500 alcoholics over night,' Sioux Falls mayor says.
The city of Sioux Falls has put a stop to alcohol sales at two of the three businesses that offer beer, wine or liquor in a crime-riddled area of town known as Mercato Block.
And when the third and prime target — Mercato Liquor and C-Store — gets its booze license pulled later this year, as city councilors have vowed to do, there will be no place left to buy booze on the 600 block of West 11th Street.
But critics say ridding the Mercato Block of alcohol won’t solve the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood’s crime problems, and banning booze sales at those three stores will merely move their customers to other areas of central Sioux Falls where they can buy libations.
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To that point, there’s another convenience store with alcohol sales a block to the west and at least three more establishments that offer beer, wine or liquor within a six-block radius.
Those pushing to rid the area of alcohol, though, acknowledge that reality. And though alcohol isn’t the only driver of crime on the block and in the neighborhood. Mayor Paul TenHaken this month told The Dakota Scout that reducing the saturation of alcohol sales there is a start.
“Nothing is changing. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting different results,” he said, referring to the 2,200 police calls to that block since 2020. “And I’m not expecting that we cure 500 alcoholics over night, but at least we’re not centralizing all those problems into one area anymore.”