Beach Road Weekend attendees will be able to get a beer or a glass of wine at next month’s festival, but they’ll also have to get some pretzels or some other food to go with it.
At a public hearing Friday morning, Tisbury selectmen approved a beer and wine license for all three days of the event. Concertgoers 21 and over will be issued a wristband that entitles them to 8 drinks total. The limit came after considerable debate and was described by selectmen chair Melinda Loberg as a “symbolic gesture” to those who have expressed concern about the amount of alcohol that might be served at the three-day festival August 9-11 at Veterans Memorial Park.
J.B. Blau, the owner of Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven and several other restaurants on the Island, is the vendor for the weekend festival. Adam Epstein, CEO of Innovation Arts & Entertainment and the Beach Road Weekend promoter, said he wanted someone local who knows the specific rules for serving in Tisbury. “I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Blau said, noting Epstein’s commitment to the local economy. “We take it really seriously. We have a lot on the line. A lot more than any company coming to the Island… I can’t run away and hide.”
Blau said he will have bartenders certified in detecting if someone is impaired, known as TIPS certification. Police Chief Mark Saloio said two officers will also be stationed at the beer and wine tent, one equipped with a portable breath tester if there’s any question about someone’s impairment.
Saloio backed up Blau and Epstein that setting a drink limit was arbitrary. “A lot of it is based on build, muscle mass, and weight,” he said. Epstein pitched the eight drink limit, essentially one per hour, which seemed to appease selectmen Jim Rogers and Melinda Loberg.
Though it was a public hearing, only two people showed up. Peter Scott, who lives on Delano Road overlooking the park, said he’s worried about serving alcohol at the event. “It should be on the merits of putting on music,” he told selectmen. Michael Watts, the only other member of the public to speak, questioned how the license fits into the town’s bylaw. For example, it’s a requirement to sit at a table and be served under town regulations. He also wondered if the town would be held liable if there is an incident involving alcohol. “We can’t abrogate our responsibilities,” Watts said.
Blau and Epstein said the town will be named in liability insurance policies and indemnified.
When Watts pressed to ask the financial arrangement between Blau and Epstein, the two men said that’s a private business deal. Epstein has agreed to pay the town an additional $15,000 to serve beer and wine at the event on top of the $25,000 field rental, as well as what he’s spending to pay for officers and other emergency personnel at the festival.
Rogers told Watts the town has taken its time, examining the town bylaw with the help of counsel to make sure the sale of alcohol at the event is okay.
Saloio, as he has in the past, expressed his support for sale of alcohol at the event versus people sneaking it in. He said the department is heavily staffing the event, maybe overstaffing it, to ensure safety. “I’m not saying there won’t be challenges,” he said. “It’s extremely likely this will be a safe event.”
Blau pointed out that the festival, which is headlined by John Fogerty and Phil Lesh, isn’t likely to attract young binge drinkers. “This is going to be a more mature concert crowd than I’m used to at The Loft at 11 pm,” he said.
With some feedback from Blau, selectmen agreed to allow serving beer and wine from 4 to 8:30 pm Friday when “Jaws” will be screened with the Cape Cod Symphony playing the score, 11 am to 8:30 pm Saturday during the concerts, and 11 am to 8 pm Sunday.
Selectmen also approved an overall license for the event adding Fire Chief John Schilling as someone who needs to sign off that the requirements have been met. They also discussed getting Epstein together ahead of time with key officials to determine what other permits are needed so there are no surprises at the concert.
In other business, selectmen approved a flow chart submitted by the new director of the DPW, facilities and wastewater Kirk Metell. They also boosted his raise by adding a $225 per week stipend for the additional responsibilities, which will bring his overall compensation package to $100,210. Town administrator Jay Grande said the stipend is temporary until a full evaluation is done on how the position’s salary should be set.