Published in the February 28, 2019 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Thanks to the efforts of groups like the Wakefield Community Partnership and Wakefield Main Streets, the list of popular special celebrations will be expanded beyond the current Holiday Stroll and Festival Italia offerings.
The Town Council this week gave their approval for dates for an expanded roster of 2019 events that will also include a “North Avenue Block Party” on April 13 and an “Oktoberfest” event on Oct. 5. Those new events will be sponsored by the Community Partnership (formerly the Event Planning Committee) and will be on the calendar along with Festival Italia on Aug. 24, 2019 and the Holiday Stroll on Dec. 7, 2019.
Town Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin expressed some concern over the lack of detail for the proposed North Avenue Block Party and the Oktoberfest event. But Community Partnership vice president John Ross and director Katie Dolan assured the board that once the dates were approved, details would be provided to the Town Council six to eight weeks prior to each event.
One upcoming event did give some Town Councilors pause, however.
The Wakefield Main Streets organization submitted a request to stage a “pop-up” event on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The event would take place on Saturday, March 16 and would be held on a portion of Albion Street, from Main Street to Foster Street, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (The block would be closed to traffic from 3-8 p.m. to allow for set-up beforehand and cleanup afterwards.)
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio said that the request came in late in the form of a letter from Main Streets. The letter states that, “Wakefield Main Streets, Inc. respectfully submits a request to the Town Council for an event permit for a ‘Pop Up’ which we plan to hold on Saturday, March 16, 2019. … The event will include food that will provided by an area restaurant and a beer truck provided by a local brewery. We will acquire food permits and would like to request, at this time, a one-day liquor license for the local brewery that will be at the event.”
“Pop-Up” events are defined as temporary, unexpected events in unique spaces. However, some Town Councilors were concerned because, as of Monday night’s Town Council meeting, the official form requesting a one-day liquor license for the beer truck had not yet been completed.
Councilor Mehreen Butt said that she was not comfortable with the fact that it was a new event and the organizers were not available at the meeting to answer questions. She noted that the Town Council has another meeting on March 11, before the event, and suggested waiting until then to approve it.
“I think we wait until March 11, when they get the paperwork in,” she said.
Councilor Ann Santos agreed, saying that the event seemed a little “amorphous.”
But Town Councilor Edward Dombroski argued that putting the vote off to March 11 would effectively nix the event. He said that without knowing if they had approval, Main Streets would not be able to promote the event.
“What will they be able to answer on March 11 that would sway the decision?” he asked. He noted that the board in the past has granted liquor licenses subject to certain conditions.
“They are a known entity to us,” he said. Based on that, he suggested that the board could approve the event subject to Main Streets getting the liquor license application submitted.
Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin agreed with Butt.
“It’s around a holiday that’s a big drinking holiday,” she said. “I have some questions and I would like to have them answered.” She indicated that if those answers were satisfactory the organizers could be assured of getting the approval.
Santos wondered if there was a way to give some kind of conditional approval that would allow Main Streets to move forward with planning and publicity.
After briefly conferring with Town Counsel Thomas Mullen, Maio said that if the Town Council was so inclined, they could approve the event subject to a ratification vote on March 11, assuming the liquor license application and other paperwork was in order. Dombroski made such a motion, noting that any questions could be answered by Main Streets reps at that March 11 meeting. The Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the motion.