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Some Lakeside residents fear bars would be accompanied by crime

DCN Correspondent

Family based neighborhoods, beautiful parks, and small, locally owned businesses are all things that are associated with Duluth’s Lakeside district.

Alcohol and crime are two things that are not.

By a vote of 2,858 to 2,857, according to the Star Tribune’s official election results, Duluth’s Lakeside district chose not to repeal its ban of alcohol sales in the district.

One Lakeside resident in particular, Rachel Johnson, thought that crime would be increased.

“I think it’s really important that this community remains dry,? said Johnson, a mother of two. “Alcohol brings crime and other problems. Bars and liquor stores belong in downtown, not here in the neighborhoods and family communities.?

Another Lakeside resident, Greg Farmar, agreed with Johnson on the topic.

“I like the fact that the alcohol ban was upheld, even if it was only by one vote,? said Farmar. “When the bars close, drunk drivers hit the streets, that’s not what this area wants. And it’s not like you can’t get beer if you want it. There are liquor stores just down the road.?

While many of the small-town, family values associated with Lakeside were evident when speaking on the topic, there were some people who didn’t see alcohol sales as such a problem.

Eric Sims, who is a local carpenter that lives in Lakeside, is one of them. He doesn’t agree that alcohol sales necessarily should be associated so heavily with crime.

“I don’t understand why alcohol is seen as such a problem,? said Sims. “Sure, people can be irresponsible with it but I don’t see the problem with being able to walk down the street to a neighborhood bar to have a beer. People around here are pretty responsible. I don’t think a local bar would change that all of a sudden.?

Residents were mostly concerned primarily about the influx of crime in an area with historically low crime rates.

“Just a few weeks ago, someone was stabbed and killed outside the Runway Bar out by Highway 53,? said Lindsey Jennings, a younger resident of the Lakeside area. “People lose their heads once they have a few drinks and it leads to violence. I see it all the time at bars and parties.?

Lakeside is a safe area and residents want to see it stay that way. But some issues with alcohol sales seems to be not as much about those in general, but the establishment of bars.

“Liquor stores don’t worry me as much, because people can buy booze and drink it in the privacy of their own home,? said Jennings. “With bars, that’s out in the public and affects the community. I really don’t want to see bars mixed in with the Lakeside neighborhood.?

So outsiders may look at Lakeside and wonder why they wouldn’t want alcohol sales, but some residents know exactly why they want their district to remain dry.

“This is a great place to live and raise a family,? said Johnson. “I want to see it stay that way.?