Naperville Councilwoman Brodhead, ‘Do We Still Have A Drinking Problem Downtown?’

It wasn’t that long ago, when chaos, bedlam, and mayhem were breaking out in downtown Naperville on weekend nights. An abundance of liquor-providing establishments along with over-serving have a way of resulting in pandemonium at best and a few deaths at worst occurring in beautiful downtown Naperville on warm summer nights.

The Naperville city council at that time saw very few, if any, liquor license permit requests it didn’t like.  It wasn’t until a few liquor-fueled deaths occurred, that the city council started feeling the heat, and began to make some changes with regard to liquor in the downtown area.

Among those changes, was to deny Walgreens a liquor license to sell alcohol in it’s downtown location, specifically to curtail the availability of liquor to the late night crowd. It may have been part of the solution, or it may have been just coincidence that problems began to lessen. It’s also possible that alcohol-fueled problems still occur in the downtown area, but they are reported less. No doubt that city officials began to tire, trying to explain why nothing of any consequence was being done to address the problem. It’s amazing how quickly a couple of deaths occurring, will catch the attention of city officials.

When the Naperville city council approved the Water Street Project, it ‘officially’ announced the shift of Naperville changing it’s image from being family friendly to becoming a destination for entertainment. During the last city council meeting, council members approved the increase of five more liquor licenses in the Water Street project.

Additionally, the council wants to revisit Walgreens request for a liquor license permit for it’s downtown store. Six of the nine members of the council are new since the original request was denied. The thought is that with the Water Street Project nearing completion, it would make it convenient for hotel guests to wander over to Walgreens to pick up an assortment of alcohol-laced products, or maybe just a 6-pack of Schlitz.

And what about the late night crowd that city officials were concerned about when the permit was first denied? Watch and listen as Mayor Steve Chirico, councilwoman Judy Brodhead, and Naperville Police Detective Dan Riggs jump into the conversation  as Brodhead wants to know if the downtown drinking problem still exists:

Does anybody really believe the problem doesn’t still exist? Does anybody really believe that city officials wouldn’t want the additional tax revenues from another liquor license? City officials want to appear as though they are seriously weighing the pros and cons of approving and issuing a liquor license to Walgreens. Let’s see, additional tax revenue and the probability of more liquor fueled problems, or reverting back to being family-friendly. That train left the station. Issue the license, stop pretending that tax revenue doesn’t trump safety, and get ready to issue a liquor license when “Jone’s BBQ Chicken Shack, and Foot Massage’ appear in front of the dais for his liquor license.

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  1. Jim Haselhorst

    A few facts not mentioned in this article. First a liquor license only allows downtown establishments to sell alcohol until 10pm. Second, the excessive drinking problem was with the establishments that also have a permit for late night operations, which allows them to remain open and sell liquor until 1pm to 2pm depending on the day of the week.

    Since most of the stores and restaurants in downtown close at 10pm these late night establishment are all that is really open after 10pm, which means after 10pm downtown Naperville has never really been family-friendly. And why should it be? How many “family-friendly” location are open after 10pm? And what responsible parent would be dragging their children around this late at night? In the over 20 years I have lived in Naperville I have never see a family hanging out in downtown Naperville after 10pm.

    Finally, as to whether the late night drinking problem has been solved, based on my discussions with owners of these establishments, the police that are out in force downtown during this time and my observations, I would say yes it has been solved. Are there still occasionally people that get drunk in downtown? Yes, no system is perfect, even if all these establishments didn’t exist people could still hangout downtown, drink and get drunk. But these few drunks are not causing any problems; no fights, no car wrecks, no publicly inappropriate behavior.

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