The Mobile City Council held over for four weeks a decision on granting a license to sell alcohol to Wynnsong Cinema 16 on Schillinger Road, but that didn’t keep public comments against the move from pouring in.
The council will take up the issue Tuesday, Oct. 7, with Councilwoman Bess Rich announcing another Public Safety Committee meeting on the issue is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. in the ninth floor conference room of Government Plaza.
“It’s definitely a work in progress and we need to pay attention to the concerns from the community,” Rich said.
Eight residents spoke out against the family-oriented theater being allowed to sell alcohol.
Mac Morris, the pastor of Woodridge Baptist Church, said he remembers when Hurricane Fredric came ashore 35 years ago, adding that there’s another storm coming and “his name is Al Cohol.”
“Alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths a year in the U.S.,” Morris said. “Alcohol is associated with divorce, spousal and child abuse and it’s one of the most frequently abused substances by those 12 to 17 years old.”
Morris told councilors that he had 700 signatures on a petition from his congregation of those against the proposal. He added that he represents 112 southern Baptist churches in Mobile County with 62,000 members, which have signed a unanimous petition against alcohol at the theater.
“You can’t control winds of 200 miles per hour,” he said. “You can control a storm called Al Cohol.”
Resident Lynn Scott said she had three major concerns about the resolution being passed. First, she said, was the safety of children and teens at the theater. She said, secondly, the theater would no longer be family friendly and third, it would make Schillinger Road more dangerous.
“Schillinger Road is already congested and dangerous,” Scott said. “Alcohol would make it more dangerous.”
West Mobile residents Shelly and Julius Powell also spoke against the move. Shelly Powell said she texted about 20 Mobile residents, most of whom where mothers, when she left a Public Safety Committee meeting last week. She said all of them shared disapproval.
Shelly Powell suggested that Carmike, the owner of the theater, work to make the cinema more family friendly as a way to make more money.
Julius Powell said the risk in allowing alcohol sales could result “in a loss of life.”
Karen Swanson, from 1477 Hunters Court, said Wynnsong wasn’t the place for alcohol.
“Our children have nowhere to go,” she said. “My son is 19 years old and he’s around alcohol all the time. When he tells me he wants to go to the movies I’m relieved.”
Swanson also said she couldn’t understand how Carmike is not profiting from the theater, given what it charges for soft drinks and snacks.
James Pittman, a Daphne attorney representing Carmike, said during a Public Safety Committee meeting last week that the theater would take steps to cut down on the possibility of underage drinking at the cinema.
He said the cinema would have a separate register for alcohol sales. In addition, every driver’s license would be scanned and patrons buying beer and wine would be required to wear wristbands. He said the theatre would serve alcohol in clear cups, as well.
Wynnsong Customers would also be limited to two drinks, if council grants the approval for alcohol sales. Customers would also only be allowed to purchase one beer, or one glass of wine at a time per customer, Pittman said.
If the license is approved, Carmike will renovate its lobby and add a kitchen to its facility to add better food options, like salads, sandwiches and pizza, Pittman said. The changes would allow the theater to compete with streaming services, like Netflix and video on-demand.
“Market data and surveys show people would like to have beer or wine at the movies,” he said. “Five to 10 percent of theaters are licensed to sell alcohol. In five to six years it’ll be 70 percent.”
Pittman did not speak to the council during the regular meeting Tuesday.
City funding of proposed county soccer complex
Mayor Sandy Stimpson said the city should focus on its own parks with $3 million set aside in the fiscal year 2015 and not invest in a proposed soccer complex and aquatic center near the intersection of interstates 10 and 65, after reports that members of council were pushing the idea.
Stimpson said the city should focus on its needs and not its wants, in reference to the proposed county project. He pointed to a map with more than 800 problem areas that the city needs to fix.
“Everyone wants a Mercedes, but do you need a Mercedes when your house is falling down,” he questioned. “I would question the need for council to even ask for it.”
Stimpson added that with the debt already on the books, including the Alabama Cruise Terminal that costs over $1 million a year, the council shouldn’t enter into what could become an “open-ended project.”
“We can’t say it will pay for itself,” Stimpson said. “The cruise terminal was supposed to pay for itself.”
Stimpson reminded those in attendance that the city’s amended litter ordinance would go into effect Oct. 1 with one change. The city won’t start enforcing the requirement for dumpster enclosure until March 1 to allow businesses the opportunity to get in compliance with the measure.
Under the new ordinance, cigarette and litter receptacles will be required for commercial properties. It prohibits signs on trees, or utility poles in the right-of-way and will hold landlords responsible for violations by tenants or occupants.
In other business
The council held over a vote on Stimpson’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget. The board also authorized a contract with MDS Construction for History Museum of Mobile structural repairs, in the amount of $13,554.
The council also authorized a contract with Best Price Lawn Service LLC for right-of-way mowing services on Government Street from Eslava Creek to Bellingrath Road. The contract is worth $19,800 and runs through the end of October.
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