MACHIAS, Maine — Machias selectmen unanimously approved a new location for a proposed street dance during the coming Wild Blueberry Festival, as well as the sale of beer at the event.
The Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, citing a loss of vendors’ revenue at the festival, proposed the dance as a moneymaking venture.
The first location they suggested, behind Machias Hardware in the municipal parking lot, was shot down due to noise and parking concerns.
The second location was the Water Street municipal parking lot. But the selectmen learned this week that there was a special covenant on the property deed.
Tony Upton, who sold the property to the town for $1, pointed out that if the land is used for anything but a parking lot, ownership reverts back to him.
“I have no opposition to the dance,” Upton told the board. “But do you set a precedent? Will there be a carnival there next year?”
The board agreed that they could not use the Water Street lot.
“Could we have it here [at the town hall]?” asked Selectman Danny Manchester. He said the lot was fenced at the rear and if Court Street could be blocked off, the area would be large enough. “And there are no neighbors to be worried about,” he added.
Main Street business owner Sandy Bryant said, “The issue is not the dance, it is the beer tent.”
At previous meetings, Kathleen Shannon assured the board that extra security, including off-duty police officers, would be used at the event and the beer tent or garden would be closely monitored. She said once a person is allowed in the area serving the beer, they would not be allowed to return if they left.
The board voted unanimously to allow the dance, which will be held 8-11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, with the band Fishwhistle.
Outside the meeting room, in the town office hallway, Bryant predicted, “They’ll get burned. They’ll be sorry.”
Selectman Glenn Davis said that it would be refreshing to see some of the money brought into town for the festival to actually remain in town, rather than leave in the pockets of the vendors.
In other business, Town Manager Chris Loughlin told the board that a sewer upgrade project which has closed much of the downtown area, detouring Route 1 traffic around several businesses, is expected to last until next week.
“It will be there until at least Monday or Tuesday,” he said. “By Wednesday, even if they are not finished, they will clean up the road and open it for the Blueberry Festival.”
The board also set the mill rate at $20.60 per $1,000 in valuation, an increase from $19.10. Tax bills are being mailed this week.
The board also opted to set a $5 per day landing fee for transient aircraft at the Machias Valley Airport.