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Falmouth restaurant parking woes put entertainment licenses at risk

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July 10 – A Falmouth restaurant risks being denied an entertainment permit after a dispute with the town council over parking on a busy road.

Town officials said patrons of The Barn at Old Smith Farms continued to park their vehicles along Highway 100, raising safety concerns that they wanted to resolve before issuing a recreational permit to the venue.

However, the owner of the seasonal restaurant and event space thought the parking issue had been resolved last year and was caught off guard to learn that the issue would be brought up again at Monday’s city council meeting, when her special play permit is awaiting approval.

In a memo to the city council, town manager Nathan Poore recommended denying the permit unless parking along the street, also known as Gray Road, is prohibited or at least restricted.

The restaurant, via its social media accounts, is calling on patrons to attend a 7 p.m. council meeting on Monday to support the approval of the license, which allows bands to play, one of the main attractions at the seasonal restaurant dinner, which features a fire pit and lawn games.

“This will be a huge blow to our restaurants and customers,” the Facebook post said. “The Barn has become a neighborhood favorite hangout with friends and family, and everyone loves our upbeat dinner music. We Going the extra mile to provide music in the background for our dinner service.”

Concerns about parking at The Barn first emerged last summer when Poole, walking with a police officer, noticed parked cars on Route 100 blocking people leaving the restaurant from seeing oncoming traffic and forcing pedestrians into danger. walking close to the road.

Not long after, on July 20 of last year, Poole was contacted by the Maine Department of Transportation, advising the town to restrict on-street parking around the restaurant.

“We met with the owner Molly (Rizzo) immediately and we were given a temporary no parking sign,” Poole said. The signs prevent cars from parking because they would create blind lanes at restaurant exits, Poole wrote in a recent memo to the city council, and it appears that “the immediate safety issue has been temporarily addressed.”

For Rizzo, it also seemed to solve the parking problem.

“I basically thought it was gone. We did what they asked; the signs were there,” she said.

Rizzo was therefore surprised to hear that Police Commissioner John Kilbride had submitted a letter to the council expressing continued concern. Kilbride also provided a traffic report showing more than 900 vehicles traveling at a typical speed of 45 to 55 mph between 6pm and 8pm on a Tuesday in June, often with live music.

With her entertainment license in question, Rizzo felt there had been a lack of communication in town from last summer until now.

“I didn’t realize it was still a brewing issue for them,” Rizzo said. “If they’re having a problem with on-street parking, let’s fix that and work with them. But, compressing our recreational permits … it’s just going to hurt business.”

Poole said Rizzo had not complied with the restrictions agreed to last summer until Thursday, when she again blocked the parking lot near the exit after his memo was issued.

“But before (Thursday), we saw that (Ritzo) was not doing what we said, so we had to take a stronger stance,” he said.

His memo to the city council also noted that The Barn served special entertainment and prepared food last summer without the proper licenses and had its liquor license expire in October, with the state allowing a grace period to comply. Regulation.

In the short term, Poole wants to at least seal off hazardous exits and limit parking on the south side of the business district, where guardrails encroach on space and make it unsafe for pedestrians to walk next to parked cars.

Long-term solutions are also being worked out. Last week, Rizzo met with the town’s traffic engineer, Tom Errico, to discuss future remedies. Both Rizzo and Poole described the conversation as productive and said they hope to work toward a resolution.

“It’s a problem for a reason. It’s because (Ritzo’s) business is great and we really want to see that continue. But at the same time, we have an obligation to keep people safe,” Poole said. explain.

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