Prospect Park neighborhood wants voice in Minneapolis liquor licensing

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A University of Minnesota neighborhood is formalizing its liquor policy to avoid potential alcohol issues the light rail could bring.

Prospect Park has negotiated with six local businesses that have liquor licenses in an attempt to avoid attracting the late-night parties and crime it says Dinkytown suffers from.

The neighborhood wants to standardize its policy before the light rail opens next year and attracts more businesses to the area.

Currently, Minneapolis City Council grants businesses liquor licenses based mainly on staff recommendations. A neighborhood can choose to support a restaurant’s bid but doesn’t have the final say in whether the license is granted.

“We don’t have any real power,” said Karen Murdock, Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association secretary. “[But] you don’t want to start off relationships on the wrong foot.”

Neighborhood representatives have asked restaurants to take a number of proactive measures to prevent binge drinking, a concern many residents have.

Restaurants are encouraged to limit drink specials, happy hours and bar seating, as well as emphasize serving food with any alcoholic beverage.

But at a public meeting Monday, some residents expressed concerns the neighborhood’s liquor policy asks too much of local businesses.

“When I read the policy, I was a little alarmed,” said PPERRIA board member Tamara Johnson.

She said the neighborhood’s practice goes “above and beyond what the city’s asking” by requiring restaurants to make commitments for the future, like promising to never install a bar.

Such requirements will only discourage businesses from opening in the neighborhood, Johnson said.

Neighborhood resident and University alumna Diana Dukich said the current liquor policy doesn’t do its job, because restaurants and bars cater to an older crowd.

“Students are going to binge drink if they want to binge drink,” she said.

For more on neighborhoods’ relative power in community decisions, pick up Wednesday’s Minnesota Daily.