WILMINGTON -- A special permit for outdoor liquor consumption was granted to Anchor Seafood owner Susan Lawrence for the Blueberry Festival Block Party after representatives from the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership asked that it not be given so the event remains alcohol free.
The two parties reached an agreement before the Wilmington Selectboard meeting on June 18, where Lawrence said she felt there shouldn't be a precedent set, in which a small group can impose upon the rights of a business owner. Nonetheless, she said she would not be setting up a tent this year.
"I think it's a slippery slope," she continued. "We've always done this responsibly for the seven years it's been done. I will go ahead and work with them. I will not open the cosmopolitan tent. Next year, perhaps, things will change."
On June 4, the partnership's program director Cindy Hayford told the Selectboard that her coalition sponsored the block party event for five years before the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce assisted in organizing it for the past two years. Part of that sponsorship meant keeping it an alcohol and drug free event.
According to Hayford, funding from the coalition included $500 for a band, $300 for police and more for hula hoops and other supplies. This year, the downtown organization Wilmington Works has got on board to assist with the event.
"We pay for the whole thing then have other sponsors," said Hayford. "There's been a lot of misunderstanding about these permits.
A tent behind the restaurant had served alcohol in the past without the coalition's knowledge. Lawrence told the board she was not aware it was an alcohol or drug free event.
"I still want to move forward with the permit because I think it's important that a message is sent," she said. "It's not about me. It's my proactive move for businesses in town. It's an uphill battle for them. They shouldn't worry about individuals with their agendas being able to get in the way of them being successful. I don't think that's the role of the Selectboard."
Representing the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, Andy Hauty confirmed the group was satisfied with the arrangement.
Selectboard Chairman Jim Burke said that if a permit is brought before the town and all criteria is met and the police chief signs off on it, then it's the board's job to accept it.
"There's plenty of special interest groups out there. They have the right to public assembly and to be heard," he added. "This should not be a precedent. It's not this government's job to impose its morality on any business or private citizen."
Selectboard member Susie Haughwout mentioned it being a positive thing that the two groups worked the issue out.
"I think Judge Judy would be proud. I appreciate the fact that you both very seriously spoke and decided about a course of action and hopefully that will be to both of your benefits. We'll see what the future holds," she said.
At the meeting, Town Manager Scott Murphy spoke of the ongoing negotiations for a fire agreement with the Hermitage Club. He said a date was set so that it would be reached in the next 60 days.
"Right now, it's back and fourth," he said. "It's difficult in we don't know what type of equipment to get up there. We're communicating so we're getting a better idea of what will be needed. The line of communication being open is very much helpful."
The Hermitage Club plans to open its new base lodge at Haystack in the first week of October.
In April, the downtown footbridge known as Reardon Bridge was determined by Agency of Natural Resources to need raising to satisfy floodplain requirements. It will likely be elevated in the fall after foliage is over, Murphy said. The construction company Renaud Brothers that originally put in the bridge will return for the job.
Murphy heard from the bridge's engineer Merrill Mundell that the work will not require a crane and the cost will likely remain under $5,000.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.