Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) led a campaign to get a referendum on the April 24 primary election ballot that would allow restaurants to apply for (R) liquor licenses from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but fell short of the 2,010 signatures that were required. During a three-week collection period, 15 local businesses and 19 volunteer residents were able to collect 844 signatures from registered voters and spread awareness.
Salvatore’s, a local business in favor of the referendum, promoted the campaign by printing advertisements on receipts, putting up posters, and advertising on their digital sign along Penn Avenue. “I do not understand why people think that our community is different than Bloomfield, Shadyside or other areas that have liquor licenses,” said Ermanno DiPasquale, owner of Salvatore’s. “People do not stop drinking because they cannot buy drinks in Wilkinsburg. They go somewhere else.”
Volunteer Marlee Gallagher said this was a great way to meet her neighbors. “I met several wonderful neighbors who were very enthusiastic about overturning the ban on liquor licenses” she said. “There were only a handful of people who I asked to sign that declined, and usually that was because they were not a registered voter.”
A representative from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board was available to answer questions at a public meeting that was held this past January. Many residents and business owners were in favor of the initiative, while some were unsure about how it would affect the community. The WCDC provided a Q&A sheet to answer the questions that surfaced during the meeting, which is available at www.wilkinsburgcdc.org/liquor.
The WCDC plans to pursue the referendum again in two years. The total amount of signatures required is based on the general election in the preceding fall. In 2015, the number of necessary signatures will likely be less, because it will not be following a presidential election.
The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation was formed in June of 2008 with a mission to revitalize Wilkinsburg and surrounding areas through business and residential development, organizational and individual civic leadership, and cultural enrichment.