Council rejects reconsideration of laundromat liquor, gaming license


Kierra Frazier

Jim Mason, owner of South 4th Street Mega Laundromat, addresses the City Council Monday.

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council rejected a vote to reconsider a resolution for a laundromat liquor and gaming license for South 4th Street Mega Laundromat. The resolution was up for a second vote after it failed Jan. 25 with no discussion. 

First Ward Alderperson Carolyn Morris said she wanted the application to be revisited at Monday’s meeting because it was unusual for a resolution to be rejected with no discussion on it. 

“I just wanted to give council the opportunity to communicate to the community,” Morris said.

Sarah Whiting, general manager of South 4th Street Mega Laundromat, said the business submitted the application at the request of customers who wanted a gaming center in the laundromat. She said the building wouldn’t become a social bar scene if the licenses were approved. 

“The liquor and gaming go hand in hand for the state,” Whiting said. “If we didn’t have to have liquor, we would do it without it; the gaming is our main goal here.” 

Whiting said customers from over 40 miles away come to visit the laundromat at 1387 S. 4th St, which in turn economically benefits the community. 

Many DeKalb residents at the meeting spoke out in support of the resolution to reconsider a laundromat liquor and gaming license. 

DeKalb resident Michael Embrey said gaming centers in the city have a strong economic impact and council members must not be “business discriminate.”  

Jim Mason, owner of South 4th Street Mega Laundromat, said he never thought getting approval from the City Council for a liquor and gaming license would be a problem.

“I wanted the idea to have the reconsideration because I thought it was appropriate for the community because this means a lot,” Mason said. “Economic development comes in small packages and large packages.” 

In 2020, video gaming tax was projected to bring in $180,868 in revenue and $177,974 for 2021, according to the fiscal year 2021 city budget

Fifth Ward Alderperson Scott McAdams said residents in the fifth ward are opposed to the laundromat liquor license because it’s near Huntley Middle School, 1515 S. 4th St.

“It seems like this evening we’ve tried to turn this into a referendum on Jim Mason; it’s not. It’s a referendum on the idea,” McAdams said. “The residents of the Fifth Ward hate it. They don’t dislike it. They don’t kind of dislike it. They hate it, and they don’t hate it because it’s Jim Mason.” 

Morris said she was against the reconsideration because approving a laundromat liquor and gaming license harms the broader economy of the entire community.

“You don’t hear people boasting, ‘like our city has so many video gaming establishments; it’s such a robust community, and we have such a robust economy and this is evidence of it,’” Morris said. 

The resolution to reconsider the license was defeated with five council members voting against and two voting in favor. Second Ward Alderperson Bill Finucane and Third Ward Alderperson Tracy Smith voted against.

“I think the fact that they hate the idea but already have several establishments in their ward that are that close to schools so I do see it as maybe not liking Mr. Mason since we have at the establishment similar to that,” Finucane said. 

Fourth Ward Alderperson Greg Perkins also voted against the reconsideration because of how close the establishment is to the school. 

“I’ve listened to the school board and the school board is not in favor of having this across the street from them and that’s my biggest concern. Listen to the people in my ward — the people in my ward aren’t in favor of it either,” Perkins said. “The whole thing is kind of an interesting civics lesson.”