By Tia Lynn Ivey, Managing Editor
After a stern rebuke from the Madison Mayor and City Council meeting last month, the Sunflower Convenience Store in Madison may get a second chance.
Madison Police Officer Philip Malcom, who originally urged the city council to enact a 7-day suspension of alcohol sales at Sunflower, had a change of heart, asking the council on Monday night for leniency–with some strings attached. Malcom repeatedly witnessed Sunflower patrons loitering outside of the store, consuming alcohol on the premises illegally, and worried the situation could lead to more serious crimes committed.
“The patterns I see out there are going to lead to something this city is going to regret,” said Malcom last month. “We are going to have something happen out there, a murder or other serious crime, that we don’t want to happen.”
Malcom laid blame upon the store owners for the situation, accusing them of negligence and selling to intoxicated customers. In a 3-to-2 vote last month, the city council voted to enact a 7-day alcohol sales suspension and a $500 fine, but store owner Marissa Nimmala appealed the ruling and enacted various improvements to the store to better monitor customer activity and ward off loiterers.
Nimmala’s efforts inspired Malcom to have a change of heart toward the store.
“They have shown me they can manage their business,” said Malcom, who praised Nimalla for installing cameras and better lighting to ward off patrons attempting to drink alcohol outside of the store. However, Malcom recommended a 60-day monitoring period to ensure the store keeps up with the new improvements before dismissing the suspension.
The council voted 4-to-1 Monday night to extend the monitoring period and hold off on enacting the suspension. Councilman Joe DiLetto was the sole opposing vote.
“Be careful of setting a precedent on this,” warned DiLetto. “From here on out, everybody who has an alcohol violation is going to expect that they get away with it if they tweak their situation.”
But Malcom urged for a little bit of mercy.
“I don’t want to set the precedent either, but I also want people who work with me and comply to know that I am willing to be understanding also,” said Malcolm. “At the end of 60 days, if they are still good, I would entertain withdrawing the suspension. They have proven to me that they can manage their property.”