School security, vineyard entertainment addressed at Glocester Town Council meeting


GLOCESTER – At the Glocester Town Council’s Thursday, June 2 meeting, the board tackled topics including license requests of local businesses and increasing security at town schools with help from federal funding provided through the American Rescue Plan Act.

A public hearing was held resulting in approval of an issuance of a new victualing license for Chepachet Gas & Market , LLC at 1163 Putnam Pike for applicant Tarek Yatim. Yatim, who also owns 25 other such locations in New England will offer, “convenience store food,” including hotdogs, nachos, and frozen drinks; in addition to fuel, said the company’s consultant, speaking on behalf of the owner who was reportedly unable to attend the meeting.

But a special event license to include live outdoor amplified music by applicant Mulberry Vineyards
of 95 Pound Road was the main discussion. 

Much of the lengthy talk by town councilors and other officials with business co-owners David and Melissa Wright centered on differences of opinion or perception regarding the loudness of the music played at the business. Others to weigh in included supporters, neighbors residing close to the business and those with expertise or experience in the music or hospitality business.

Several individuals testified that the music disrupts the quiet of their homes and yards, and some testified that the serenity of residing in the town was the reason they moved to Glocester. 

Mulberry Vineyards typically offers music on Sundays from 1-4 p.m., which David Wright said is requested by customers and a necessity to keeping the business competitive.

Some of the neighbors comments focused on a particular singer, Elise Testone, a former American Idol TV show finalist, whose music, they said, might be louder than that of another featured singer at the vineyard, Mike Sullivan. 

Another concern of the neighbors was on-street parking. Neighbors suggested Testone’s popularity brings in many of her followers, and a larger than usual crowd at the vineyard, and at least one neighbor suggested the business was turning into a concert-type venue. 

Wright expressed a desire to maintain good relations with the residents of the area, noting that he and his wife and children also live in it. He explained ways he is trying to accommodate concerns about the music, such as by potentially moving the stage and the direction it faces, and other potential measures.

“We’re trying to find a middle ground, keep a community together,” said Councilor William Worthy, adding that he’s sure things can be worked out between the neighbors and owners, so it will be embraced by the community just as another popular business, Cady’s Tavern, that has music, already is. Worthy said he hopes for success for Mulberry Vineyards – and for the neighbors to enjoy the peacefulness of their their homes and yards. 

The council ultimately decided on a trial period regarding the company’s request for a special events license accommodating amplified music to see how well Mulberry Vineyards cooperates with containing the sound levels for the next three music events they have planned. Councilors agreed that the music will only be allowed on Sundays and there is to be no on-street parking, along with other stipulations. If complaints are made to the police, such as about loud noise coming from Mulberry Vineyards, they said another Town Council meeting will be arranged, and possibly a special court hearing. 

Another matter discussed at the meetings was the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which includes direct federal aid to counties of $65.1 billion intended to combat the economic impact of COVID shutdowns and restrictions. There was no mention by the Glocester Town Council of spending rescue funds on small businesses, or for renters, homeowners or other property owners who lost businesses, jobs, or their residences – but what has been discussed in previous council meetings, and was again briefly Thursday night, was the possibility of allocating ARPA funds to Glocester for land acquisition, accounting software, Economic Development Commission marketing materials and the Glocester Little League. 

All of those possible uses of the funds were tabled.  

What was not tabled and arose at the meeting was Councilor David LaPlante’s discussion of increased school security.

“The time has come to get security other than the police department in the schools,” said LaPlante, a retired police captain. “What better time to do it (then) now that we have the ARPA funds?”  

Council Vice President Walter Steere said he agreed with wanting to protect the schools, and reminded board members that the School Committee would have the main say in what happens. 

“If I have to go as a private citizen to the school committee meeting – I will,” LaPlante replied. 

A motion was passed to send a letter to the Glocester and Regional School Committees expressing the concerns of the Town Council, and to come up with a plan for the upcoming school year.  

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