Now that residents in Riverdale have voted to approve package Sunday alcohol sales, the final decision will be up to Riverdale City Councilmembers.
However, Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon said the decision has already been made to honor the citizens’ wishes. “The council wants Sunday sales,” said Wynn-Dixon. “The bulk of the council voted and were in favor of [the referendum].”
Riverdale City Clerk Stephanie Thomas said starting Jan. 1, retailers will be allowed to sale packaged alcohol, wine, and malt beverages on Sunday, between the hours of 12:30 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.
During Tuesday’s municipal elections, the measure to allow Sunday sales passed by a vote of 305-174. Because of a lack of discussions or campaigns for, or against, the measure in the community prior to the vote, residents appeared to be indifferent about it.
Residents Martha and Eddie McKinney are examples of the differing opinions on the issue, but, for the most part, residents did not make public displays about their feelings on the subject.
Martha McKinney said she voted against allowing Sunday alcohol sales, because, in her opinion, it goes against her religious beliefs. “You got six days during the week [to purchase alcohol,]” she said, “so you need one day for rest and one day for God’s people.”
Another reason she voted against it, she said, is that she fears the number of individuals driving drunk will increase.
Her husband, Eddie McKinney, disagreed. He said people should have the right to purchase alcohol “whenever they want –– no matter what day of the week. That’s their personal right,” he said.
“If you have been to church, said your prayers and blessings, and if you want to have a little [drink] afterwards, then it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Even though he approves of Sunday sales, he is firm about not allowing those sales before 1 p.m., a time when many churches would have concluded their services.
Mayor Wynn-Dixon said she understands that there are residents who have certain religious beliefs, and she respects that. “They really don’t have to adhere to it [Sunday purchases,]” she said. “[Residents] can honor what [they] believe and not purchase [alcohol on Sunday]. This is America, and I’m not going to condemn anybody.”
Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson said from his perspective, not purchasing alcohol on Sunday has served the community well. “A lot of people think [purchasing] alcohol on a Sunday is an abomination,” he said. “People believe Sunday should be void of alcohol and partying.”
However, Patterson said he understands the economic impact Sunday sales will have on the city. “This will offer more businesses [a chance] to make money and help the community’s economic well-being,” he said.
When asked if more alcohol sales might contribute to an increase in crime, Mayor Wynn-Dixon said, “We will have to wait and see. I don’t believe sales will go up that radical that crime [would become more of a problem.]”
Chief Patterson agreed that it is difficult to forecast what might happen, but said he does not believe Sunday sales will have any impact on crime in Riverdale. “Only time will tell,” he said, “but I don’t foresee or anticipate any crime issue anymore than normal.”