Lansdowne Borough has had a long tradition as a dry town. Over the years, restaurants and taverns have come knocking on the borough’s door asking for permission to sell liquor in town. Residents have always rejected those requests and have asked their officials to keep alcohol outside borough borders.
It’s easy to see why. Lansdowne citizens want to keep their little borough free from the complications caused by neighborhood bars and the drunken exploits they can trigger. It’s a noble idea, even if alcohol is readily available just outside town.
But now one of their own is hoping to make Lansdowne a little bit less dry for the greater good of the borough.
Matt Schultz , executive director of the Historic Lansdowne Theater Corp., wants a very restrictive liquor license in town, one that would pretty much limit alcohol sales to the future performing arts center at the Lansdowne movie theater.
The financial success of the center is only viable if they can sell alcohol at certain times before, during and after performances, Schultz says.
Schultz is hoping to get a referendum on the May Primary ballot asking voters if they would support a restrictive liquor license in Lansdowne. He needs 1,000 signatures to get the referendum placed.
The license would only apply to performing arts centers in Lansdowne with a minimum of 500 seats, owned by a non-profit corporation. In other words, the Lansdowne Theater.
Schultz’s alcohol license initiative has the support of Lansdowne Council, the mayor and former mayors, who point to the benefits of a thriving performing arts center in the borough.
“I think it’s very vital to the theater’s success and we all know how important the theater is to Lansdowne and all of the efforts that Matt and his crew and other people have made over the years to make this theater a reality,” says Mayor Tony Campuzano.
Schultz is looking at an opening date of 2017 for the center, with up to 75 performances a year. Borough officials see positive overflow from theater patrons, who will hopefully shop and eat at other local businesses downtown.
It’s encouraging that we’re not talking here about a nuisance bar, or even a chain restaurant. What Schultz proposes would be no different than what already takes place at other nearby cultural centers, like the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.
The limited use of this liquor license may fulfill the needs of the borough to bring financial success to its downtown without creating the problems that can come with a community plagued by alcohol-friendly businesses.
And we’d hate to see the creative vision for the theater be stonewalled when we’re so close to the finish line.
But ultimately it’s up to the residents. If a referendum makes it to the ballot, we hope voters will carefully consider it and make the choice they feel will be best for the Borough.