‘Dry’ town supporters clash with Swarthmore College over alcohol-serving inn

     (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

    (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

    Nestled in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Swarthmore boasts quiet tree-lined neighborhoods and the campus of Swarthmore College.

    Now the borough in Delaware County has something entirely new to the “dry” town. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has granted a liquor license for a controversial project.

    The battle over booze in Swarthmore centers around the college’s desire to open an inn that serves alcohol.

    Swarthmore resident Robert Small described his home as, “a little bit of small-town Americana. We only have really a couple of blocks of businesses.” And Small said Swarthmore doesn’t need to make it easier to access alcohol in the town.

    “It’s been dry for a very long time, and if you walk two blocks away from Swarthmore on either end, you can get to a liquor store and you can find a bar. So it’s not like it’s a necessity,” he said. “We also felt, because we know there’s been a lot of problems with students and alcohol, that making alcohol more available to students is probably not a good idea.”

    College Vice President Maurice Eldridge said the school is respectful of the town’s policy.

    “One of the conditions that we sought was a provision that would allow the inn to serve alcohol to its clientele, and that was carefully constructed by the borough to make such a thing possible only on an inn on property owned by the college and so as to not violate the dryness of the town otherwise,” Eldridge said.

    Eldridge said the inn will be open to the community and serve as a convenient meeting spot for visiting professors and others.

    “We’re a special town and people have different views and, of course, they have every right to express their views,” he said.

    But Eldridge said many in the community support the opening of the alcohol-serving inn because they believe it will benefit the town. He said he expects the inn will open in 2016.

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