SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Renewing the alcohol license of a central Sioux Falls business has been a big topic at the city council meeting the last two weeks.
Tuesday night, the council chambers were full of people there to speak out – both for and against the renewal.
The two retail malt beverage license renewals are for Lucky Lady Casino on West 11th Street just west of Downtown Sioux Falls.
Before the items could even go to a vote, the applicant withdrew them from the agenda – which means the casino will soon no longer operate in that location.
According to the Sioux Falls Police Department, officers have have been dispatched to over 2,100 calls in the Lucky Lady Casino area over the past three years. They’ve seen everything from disorderly people and assaults to narcotics and stolen vehicle reports.
It has many people from the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood speaking out against the license renewal.
“If it’s known as an area that really struggles with alcohol, why would we want to have an area that they can easily access the alcohol. That’s the issue. It’s not about demonizing people and people down on their luck,” resident Glen Hildebrandt said.
Carol Williams says something has to be done.
“I’ve lived here practically my whole life, and like I said, people shouldn’t have to be threatened or afraid to live where they live, and not everybody can just get up and move because they want to because they are in fear,” Williams said.
Pam LaCroix is the general manager of the casinos M.G. Oil owns, which includes the Lucky Lady. The company is based in Rapid City.
“We have some neighborhoods in Rapid City that we’ve tried to clean up, and I can tell you from experience, you close this one, they go to this one. You close that one, they go — I mean, these people have to have a place to go, and they enjoy Lucky Lady. The customers that come in there and are decent, have a beer and are there to gamble,” she said.
With the number of police calls in that neighborhood, some city councilors were against the renewal if it had gone to a vote.
“I have a hard time seeing this as suitable location that’s not going to have further negative impact on the neighborhood, which also impacts the community at a whole,” councilor Rich Merkouris said.
“It’s just not a great place for alcohol and it’s just festered for too long. I’m not under any illusion that this is going to fix the problem, but it’s probably the first step in a healing process and a conversion of that neighborhood,” councilor Greg Neitzert said.
Councilor Pat Starr thanked members of the neighborhood for stepping up and speaking against the issue.
“This is a predatory location where criminals gather, and it is not a suitable location for alcohol,” he said.
By withdrawing the application for renewal, it did not go to a vote and the owner will get to keep those licenses — but not at that location. Therefore, the license will need to be transferred elsewhere before it expires at the current Lucky Lady location on June 30.