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Liquor License Controversy Brewing In Wilkinsburg

WILKINSBURG (KDKA) -- Many communities have struggled with how to reinvent themselves. Wilkinsburg is no exception.

But there are very strong opinions on whether issuing liquor licenses there - for the first time in nearly 80 years - is the way to go.

"Conceptually, their idea of wanting to improve their Main Street business district corridor is very important, is something that all of us would like to support," said one resident.

But the question is, how?

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation thinks liquor licenses could hold the key. But, the borough has been dry for 77 years and some residents think there are bigger fish to fry.

"These houses that are boarded up - and they are so numerous," said one concerned resident. "Do something about that first and prepare us as a community for this."

Others say enough is enough, and it's time to do something.

"I work really hard in this community to make this a better community and for people to sit here and say the negative - you are taking our residents and making them think, 'Oh, they are horrible.' No. We have good residents that want to live in a good community, that want to see the good things that are happening," another resident added.

The issue could come up for a vote this spring.

"We would need to get 2,010 signatures over a three-week period in February and March if we want to get this on the ballot in May," said Tracey Evans, of Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp.

But opponents think things are happening way too fast.

"I am very concerned that they think long and hard about liquor establishments within a two-mile square community, and I think certain things have to be in place," a resident said.

Evans agrees. Issues regarding zoning and how to deal with nuisance bars will be discussed before they move ahead.

"That would help us to make sure we have some controls over the type of establishments that we could grant liquor licenses," Evans said.

Before then, additional public meetings will be held for input from residents.

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