January 17, 2018
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Machias OKs street dance, beer garden

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — The selectmen Wednesday night approved a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored street dance, complete with a beer garden, to be held during the Wild Blueberry Festival. But at the same time they gave weight to the complaints of three residents and added a number of provisions to the approval.

Sandi Bryant, who owns part of the municipal Main Street parking lot where the dance originally was planned, aired a number of concerns at the meeting. She said she was worried she would lose access to her property, which she said she uses during the festival.

She also said that the festival’s vendors use the parking area to be near their displays.

But her biggest concern, she said, was that alcohol was going to be served.

“We have spent 32 years [hosting the Wild Blueberry Festival] without alcohol,” Bryant said.

She said she had spent thousands of dollars on sculptures that sit in a burned-out cellar hole bordering the parking lot and was concerned for their safety.

Bryant asked about toilets, security, cleanup of the area and parking.

“We need to know the parameters of this before you approve it,” she said.

Others also expressed concern about parking and whether the street dance band, Fishwhistle, would drown out the blueberry festival musical being held at the same time at the Centre Street Congregational Church, just a short distance away. Both events are set for Friday, Aug. 20.

Police Chief Grady Dwelley tried to quell fears, saying insurance and security were all taken care of and that the Chamber would have to follow all state liquor laws.

“For three hours, this is not going to be the end of the world as we know it,” he told Bryant.

Kathleen Shannon, executive director of the Chamber, offered to change the dance hours from 8-11 p.m. to 9-11 p.m. so as not to affect the musical. She then asked the board whether the Water Street public parking lot would be a better location.

She said the area would be fenced, the dance could be held from 8 to 11 p.m. and the music wouldn’t interfere with the church musical. Security in the beer garden would be tight, she said.

“It sounds to me that there is too much opposition to have it [at the Main Street lot],” board chairman Aubrey “Skip” Carter said.

“No matter where you have it, it will disturb someone,” Selectman Norman Nelson said.

The board opted to approve the dance and the temporary liquor license as long as the neighbors in the area are polled to see whether they give their blessing. Carter said that if neighbors disapprove, the issue will come before selectmen again.

The board also approved use of Bad Little Falls Park by the Beehive Collective, which annually sponsors the Black Fly Ball on Saturday, Aug. 21.

The group said that all music is acoustic, the event is substance-free and a small, temporary stage will be set up at the foot of the park, using the park’s hill as a natural amphitheater. Dwelley asked for assurances that traffic on the road be closely monitored and the park carefully cleaned afterward.

In other business, Peter Slack of Outer Court Street asked the board to request that the Maine Department of Transportation install a “reduced speed ahead” sign before the 35 mph section of the road.

Slack said vehicles routinely travel 60 mph on the road. Selectman Warren Gay, who lives in that area, said a Machias police officer clocked a vehicle going 105 mph and that, particularly in the winter, there are a number of accidents due to speed.

Dwelley told Slack he would be increasing speed details on the road.

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