by Amber Jones
This letter was written to the Bethel City Council to protest the proposed liquor license transfer from Kusko Liquor to the A.C. Co.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter to express opposition to the transfer of the package liquor license from Cezary Maczynski’s Kusko Liquor store to the North West Company, doing business as Alaska Commercial (AC) Company in Bethel, Alaska.
AC has already been given an opportunity to sell alcohol in this community and proved that they were unable to do so in a responsible manner. The opening of that liquor store had an enormously negative impact on the community of Bethel.
Since the opening of the original AC liquor store numerous community members have spoken before Bethel City Council and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to express the ways in which the liquor store negatively impacted our community.
Nothing I could write in this letter could adequately capture all of the hurt, frustration, and anger shared by community members witnessing the negative impacts of the AC liquor store firsthand.
However, I would like to address two of the concerns that were repeatedly raised about the original AC liquor store. First was that the location of the original store was poorly chosen and second was that the AC staff were not enforcing policies congruent with safe alcohol sales.
The location of the original AC liquor store was the subject of many discussions. The original location was criticized for being close to people’s homes and several schools. This led to increased foot track and public intoxication in this area, disrupting people’s lives.
Moving the liquor store to a new location, which is still close to people’s homes, does not solve the issue, it simply moves it to a new location. As someone who lives within 500 feet of the proposed new location I am in strong opposition to the liquor store opening here.
This area already has a lot of foot traffic as it is on one of the main roads in town. Individuals walk through this area to get into town from slough and the boat harbor. Now that there is another liquor store on Front Street we are seeing increased foot traffic from that store as well.
All winter long people cut through my backyard to get from Front Street to 3rd Ave. heading towards Jacob’s Way or the center of town. Oftentimes the individuals passing by are intoxicated. I have lived in this location less than a year and have already made multiple reports to the police department over intoxicated individuals becoming violent with others, being passed out on the side of the road, and staggering into oncoming traffic.
Adding another liquor store into the mix is only going to exacerbate this problem and lead to increased public intoxication and violence, requiring additional public safety resources.
Additionally, AC liquor store proved that they were not willing to make decisions that would help lessen the negative effects of their store. Regardless of where the store is set up, if AC continues to focus on profit over the welfare of this community then the negative effects of the liquor store will continue to be felt regardless of where the store is set up.
I do not have any trust in AC stepping up and making management decisions to lessen the impact of their alcohol sales on this community. Their actions in their original store suggest that they do not care about this community or working with the City of Bethel to lessen the negative impact of their alcohol sales.
If they were capable of selling alcohol in a safe manner they never would have lost their license in the first place. They continuously talked about making changes in their store that would help lessen the effects of the liquor sales without ever making any progress in doing so.
Please do not give AC another chance to hold a liquor license in this town after they proved time and again in the original store that they cannot be trusted.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this matter as it is one that is very important to me and this community. I sincerely request that you do not approve the transfer of this license.
Amber Jones is a resident of Bethel, AK.