Alcohol floated as part of private use of property Wiscasset owns

Sun, 10/31/2021 - 8:45am

    Could Wiscasset Community Center someday let in alcohol for rented events with licensed vendors? Wiscasset selectmen talked over that idea and others Oct. 28 for a possible policy on private use of public property.

    Town Manager Dennis Simmons said he would like to formalize how the town grants use of its property, to protect the town and make sure the user knows they are responsible for cleanup and any damage. A policy could do that, selectmen said.

    Selectman Pam Dunning said she agreed somewhat with Parks and Recreation Director Duane Goud’s idea to make money at WCC letting rental events with licensed vendors have alcohol. She was concerned an event-goer might swim after drinking, or carry alcohol from an event to another part of the center. She suggested the policy cover the permission process and restrictions on food, alcohol and other uses. 

    That makes sense, Selectmen’s Chair Sarah Whitfield said. 

    Goud’s Oct. 27 email to the board and Simmons projects letting licensed vendors use alcohol would bring in $5,000-$10,000 “in just the first few years, opening up our facility for receptions, private benefits/functions, fundraisers, special events, community dances, weekly programs, etc.” He said Brunswick and Cumberland allow alcohol use, via licensed vendors with proof of insurance, for rentals, special events and programs. “I feel we would be on the right track and headed in the right direction. I am very encouraged and excited that this is a revenue stream that has not been tapped into (no pun intended) by the ... Center.”

    Goud notes Wiscasset allowed it years ago at Wings over Wiscasset at Wiscasset Municipal Airport and this summer at Schoonerfest. “(The department is) on track to exceed our revenue projections for the fiscal year by $35,000-plus, but I would like to add to this!”

    Selectmen plan to have the ordinance review committee (ORC) work on a policy, as it did this year for sidewalk use.

    Also in the Zoom workshop Oct. 28, selectmen and Simmons eyed asking the town to remove the building permit fees part of the building ordinance and having selectmen set the fees, like they do for the subdivision and site plan review fees. Dunning called that a good idea. The ordinance bases building permit fees on fair market value, which can be ambiguous, like when the town had to figure what to charge for Central Maine Power’s corridor project, Simmons said. He said Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Mullins and his predecessor Stan Waltz have gone by construction costs.

    The ordinance change would take a town vote. Selectmen discussed asking the ORC to draft the change.

    They may also have the ORC look at other towns’ ethics policies as the board considers having one. Selectmen mulled adopting the state’s or just looking to it when needed. Limiting someone’s service due to their other roles in town would make committees hard to fill in a small town with one pool of volunteers, Selectman Kim Andersson said. Member Terry Heller agreed.