Indian community to vote on alcohol sales - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Indian community to vote on alcohol sales

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Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2006 5:31 pm | Updated: 5:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Members of the Salt River-Pima Indian Community will vote Tuesday whether to allow the sale of alcohol by the glass at restaurants along the Pima Freeway corridor.

As an incentive for passage, a fee of 2 percent would be imposed on every drink, with the money used to build a community health-care facility. The tax also would fund anti-substance abuse education for the community’s youths.

The Pima Corridor is on the verge of a construction boom, and backers of the measure say as many as 40 new restaurants are expected to open in the next five years.

Sales of alcoholic beverages in those restaurants could raise $1 million annually, according to Russell Ray, spokesman for the family that owns much of the land comprising the Pima Corridor.

“Education is prevention,” Ray said in a statement. “At the same time, we must find the additional services and resources to deal with the issues today as well as tomorrow.”

But twice before, in 1999 and 2001, members of the community shot down similar proposals. The latter vote rejected a proposal, by a 3-1 margin, featuring a 5 percent tax that would’ve funded substance-abuse prevention and treatment programs

Afterward, tribal councilman Tom Largo told Indian Country Today that members already have “a terrible problem with alcohol.”

And since it’s “not a part of our culture,” Largo said, “there’s no sense in bringing it closer.”

A phone message left at the Tribal Council’s headquarters was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

It was in 1997 that the community approved a measure allowing alcohol sales in casinos, resorts and golf clubs.

The Pima Corridor is an eight-mile stretch of land, 8,000 acres in all, running along Pima Road, from McKellips Road to the community’s northern boundary, just north of the Via De Ventura.

With the opening of the Pima Freeway section of Loop 101, community landowners and developers are taking advantage of the easy access afforded by the highway, presenting plans for large commercial projects.

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