PEORIA, Ill. — Tuesday, Peoria City Council members had a heated discussion surrounding movie theaters and alcohol.
An ordinance presented to council members would allow movie theaters the ability to serve alcohol to customers.
Theater representatives from AMC Theaters at Grand Prairie and Goodrich Theaters at Willow Knolls told council that the industry is evolving and expectations of movie-goers have changed. Currently, 24 AMC movie theaters in the state of Illinois hold liquor licenses and serve alcohol.
Additionally, Chicago, Springfield, and Champaign have all passed city ordinances to create a movie theater liquor license.
Now, it’s time for Peoria to decide if they are for or against it.
Councilman Denis Cyr moved to defer this discussion until September. He didn’t believe all the needed information was available to properly dissect this ordinance.
Councilman Chuck Grayeb said it is irresponsible for council members to vote on this ordinance without other input.
“This process is wrong, the members of the liquor commission are not potted plants, they have a role in our government, and our police department, come on,” Grayeb said. “You have a first reading without one idea of what their recommendation would be.”
Council members advised that the police department and city liquor commission review the proposal.
Others encouraged the horseshoe to vote against deferring the item because they were adamant about discussing the ordinance and asking clarifying questions. Councilman Tim Riggenbach said deferring the agenda item is unfriendly to businesses.
Some council members don’t see an issue with selling alcoholic beverages in theaters; they countered other members disdain by reminding them that alcohol is served at several other venues in the area, including kid-centered restaurants and the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
City representatives said that if this becomes law individual movie theaters will still have to apply for a license through the liquor commission the same way restaurants and bars are granted licenses.
Also at the council meeting, revitalization efforts for Peoria’s South Side became clearer. IDG Architects laid out their vision for the MacArthur Corridor and South Village Projects.
Back in July, city council members voted to allow IDG to come up with ideas for the areas. Current ideas include redesigned bus stops, an art garden, a community market with fresh produce, a local museum, mixed-use housing and more.
The plan presented Tuesday is not set in stone. IDG contractors said they want to get a better understanding of community needs by talking to neighbors, city leaders and key stakeholders.
IDG hopes to have a final plan to provide city council members next spring and if approved redevelopment would take place over five years.
In addition, the council approved a proposal to create a memorial in honor of Dorothy B. Sinclair.
Sinclair was a community activist. She served five terms on the council, worked as a chemistry instructor at Illinois Central College, and was active in several area organizations.
The memorial will be located on the Riverfront and named Sinclair Grove.