Park School option chosen
By Thomas D’Agostino
Webster - Indian Ranch owner Christopher Robert and his daughter Suzette Raun came before the Webster Board of Selectmen on Monday to request a permit for an outdoor concert entertainment license. The policy for indoor/outdoor entertainment was changed during a previous Board meeting, making a separate license now a requirement for outdoor entertainment.
The request by Indian Ranch was to hold concerts as well as banquets and weddings. Mrs. Raun explained that outdoor events other than concerts are held on the large pavilion, as there is a smaller number of people at those. The request was to vary the hours of the events. Currently the license allows 6 p.m. to midnight for such events. The new proposal was to end at 11 p.m. “We are just trying to stay within some guidelines and be neighbor friendly with what we are trying to deal with” Raun said.
The entertainment proposal would be Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday, and holidays 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Concerts would be Friday, Saturday, and holidays until 11 p.m. “We do need two and a half to three hours to run the show from beginning to end. We would try as hard as possible to end it at 10:30, but you never know the circumstances… I was looking at a half an hour buffer, otherwise you would be getting calls at 10:32 saying the concert is still on.” Raun said.
Right now the summer concert schedule runs roughly about sixteen weeks.
Raun further stated that they would prefer daytime concert events but with the industry the way that it is, it would be extremely difficult as it takes most of the day for the artists to set up for an evening event. It was stated that a lot of noise complaints were made towards the campers after the concerts were over. The facility implemented regulations requiring quiet time at 10 p.m. for campers in order to be more neighbor-friendly, yet continue to run their business. Selectmen Deborah Keefe was concerned over the scope of the license stating that potentially the Ranch could have entertainment seven nights a week. The concern is to balance the number of concerts and the times with what residents feel is acceptable.
Mr. Robert stated, “Our challenge, which is very difficult, is dealing with the artists. We would like to have free reign to pick artist A for day B. The challenge is when you call them up and you make them an offer they say ‘I can’t day B, I can do E, D, and C’…It is an enormous, complex job.”
Robert also stated that they were committed to be as neighbor friendly as possible, working on any problems that may be better for the welfare of the residents.
It takes about $40,000 to $60,000 to put a concert on, he said.
Selectman Mark Dowgiewicz stated that he has lived in that cove for twenty years and over the past couple of years, has not heard the music like he used to in the past.
Chairman Walter Dan Ricci suggested a public hearing to see what the people think before the board makes a decision. The Ranch is presently booking shows for the next season. Selectman Keefe brought up the issue of the new bylaw that was sent to the State Attorney General on the sound ordinance that was voted on at the town meeting. “Mr. Robert stated, “If that goes through you are going to close us and everybody else down.”
Mr. Robert further stated that the article was passed when everyone was tired and wanted to go home, having it passed without a lot of review. “We personally think it (the article) is illegal.” Mr. Robert said.
Selectman Donald Bourque stated that each time he has been to an event at Indian Ranch it has been a good experience. “I love the venue. I think it does nothing but justice for Webster. But the truth of the matter is that I think that, and I have to agree with the chairman, that maybe we just do need to hear from the people.”
A public hearing has been scheduled for January 9, 2012.
In other business, Lee Dore from Dore and Whittier Architects put on a presentation for the Park Ave School Feasibility Study. There were several options proposed in reorganizing the school system to meet MSBA standards. The need for a new Park Ave school became the prime issue, as the old one is undersized by 20,000 square feet according to MSBA standards and outdated in regard to heating, plumbing and ventilation. Of the six options proposed, the Building Committee chose Option IV.
The new proposal would replace the school with a larger building, and change the grades from K-5 to K-4. The present building is 85,000 square feet. The new school would be 110,000 square feet at an estimated cost of 40 to 45 million dollars. The middle school would be renovated at a cost of $250,000 to accommodate grades 5-8 and the Bartlett School would remain the same but with grades 9-12, leaving 15% of its present space unoccupied. The proposal will be sent to the MSBA for approval and funding. For more information on the project, go to www.wpsbuildingproject.com
Webster Police Chief Timothy Bent and Emergency Management Chief Chris Jolda met with the board to discuss the state of emergency information for the public. Police Chief Bent stated that the public can register for reverse 911 and text information on upcoming storms by going to the Webster Police Department website or the Webster Sheriff’s Office website.
The issue of shelters was also discussed in regard to usage and cost to operate them. Chief Jolda stated that the shelters were opened in certain locations but no one showed up to use them. The idea of a turnkey shelter was brought up for efficiency and the cost of running them. “When you open a shelter, it is labor intense, it’s expensive…they don’t allow pets in shelters, you need to be able to track people coming in with their medications and so forth…” Mr. Jolda said.
Mr. Jolda also commented that it takes about $8,000 to open a shelter. Emergency Management is trying to get residents to prepare for a two to three day stint should power outages occur. “Shelter is the last resort; it is not a comfortable place to be.” Mr. Jolda said.
Selectman Keefe inquired about a joint coordination between Webster and Dudley on a shared shelter. The problem that arose with that idea was that 88% of Dudley residents were without power and only 19% of Webster residents lost power during the last storm. Webster was restored first. If it had been the other way around, Dudley would not want the expense of running a shelter when there was no one from the town using it.
Selectman Keefe also suggested that the town start a Facebook and Twitter account to help update on storms and available assistance. United Way also has a 211 assistance residents can call and get set up with. This past year, the area was hit with three one- hundred-year major storm events.
Highway Department Superintendent Kenneth Pizzetti also made a point that the town does everything in its power to prepare for a storm from updates to preparation and cleanup. Town Administrator, John McAuliffe suggested that perhaps the town do more to educate the residents on the home front to be prepared within.
The Streetlight Policy was rescinded. The lights will stay on.
St. Constantine & Helen Orthodox Church was granted a one day liquor license for January, 2012.
The board accepted Chairman Ronald Harden’s resignation from the Zoning Board of Appeals.