HANSON — On the strong advice of town counsel, the Board of Selectmen and Recreation Commission are reviewing a draft of a new use agreement between the town and producers of the Bluegrass on the Bog festival.
The festival is slated for Friday, May 20 to Sunday, May 22.
The selectmen’s office received an email from lawyer Sarah Bellino of the town counsel firm of Blatman, Bobrowski & Mead at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, in which she included a contract draft she “highly” recommended.
“I have serious concerns about the town permitting use of the camp for this event without addressing these issues and requiring [Old Town Road Productions of Hopkinton] OTP to sign the attached agreement,” Bellino wrote.
She listed public safety details, the camp’s prohibition of recreational vehicles, the need for liability insurance and sanitation concerns as points that also need to be addressed before the event.
“The town should require Hanson police detail during all three days/nights of the festival to ensure safety of attendees and to enforce compliance with the no alcohol policy of the camp,” she stated.
Police Chief Michael Miksch said he has already had a two-hour meeting with producer Michael Foster on Thursday, April 21 during which much of the counsel’s concerns were addressed.
“We went over a number of things,” Miksch said, noting the private security staff used by OTP is not adequately trained. “For lack of a better term, they’re like parking attendants. … I don’t have any real problem with them doing that in the camp.”
He and Foster agreed that “no alcohol” postings would be placed.
“He agreed that if he found anyone consuming alcohol we’d remove them,” Miksch said. “They’ve got a cabin or whatever they’ve got, that’s too bad — they can go. … Going further down the road, the Rec Committee has to address any unauthorized alcohol consumption, not only at this event, but others.”
Miksch said Hanson Police details will be on duty during the event, one on Friday (6:30 to 11:30 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) when crowds are estimated at about 250, and three officers on Saturday’s day-long program when 500-600 people are expected between 10 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. If more people are expected based on ticket sales, police presence can be increased, Miksch said. Overnight details have not yet been discussed.
“I have some concerns about hours,” Miksch said. “We didn’t have any complaints from neighbors — there’s nothing logged of complaints of noise or anything — I just felt 11 p.m. or earlier would be a better time to kind of wrap it up.”
Weekend estimated crowds are similar to a large wedding at the Needles Lodge. A traffic and parking plan has also been provided to police.
“We will have details there every day,” agreed Recreation Commission Chairman David Blauss. “They’re [OTP] rewriting their insurance policy.”
RVs are prohibited because of the slope of the land, lack of hookup provisions or dump stations for sewage waste disposal and OTP’s insurance does not cover property damage from “pollution,” including sewage waste, Bellio noted. She also said OTP’s insurance does not cover the town’s liability for attendees renting cabins, tent or RV space from the company when purchasing tickets and the policy contains no liquor liability coverage.
Bellino also said a log or register should be kept to track renters and that no “overnight guests” are allowed if not listed on the rental application. Vehicle registration information is also needed, she said.
Toilet facilities and garbage containers are insufficient at the camp, as the lodge is not being rented, unless OTP or vendors provide portable toilets and additional trash barrels, Bellino advised.
Blauss noted the cove area toilet facilities and portable toilets will be available in addition to bathhouses at the north and south ends of the camp. He also challenged the definition of RVs, noting security staff uses all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
“I think, for all intents and purposes, they probably mean the ones that have campers,” Selectman James McGahan said.
Blauss noted some of the bands travel in RVs for their accommodations and the terrain limits where they can park so they are in sight of all attendees and staff running the event.
“They put a stiff limit on how many they allow,” Blauss said. “Where these are parked, if anybody was dumping anything everybody would know. These are not isolated spots, these are right on the Kiwanee road.”
Blauss said the Board of Health has been consulted and expressed no issues with the RVs. Last year there were only five or six, but Blauss estimated there could be as many as 15 to 20.
“I don’t think we should have RVs up there,” Selectman Kenny Mitchell said. “It’s clearly in the policy. If you guys have a four-wheeler, that policy may have to be adjusted to allow that four-wheeler, but RVs, it clearly says right here they shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t think we should allow it at all.”
McGahan and Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young said the regulations would have to be modified and approved by the board for any RVs to be allowed on site.
In other business, in addition to conducting the annual Town Meeting run-through, the board welcomed new firefighters Sherylin Mullin and Robert Heffernan who were sworn in Tuesday night.
Fire Chief Jerome Thompson Jr., said the two were the third and fourth of seven new firefighters being sworn in over the coming weeks, filling retirement vacancies.
“Although it’s difficult to see some of our older members retire, that have more experience, this is an exciting time for our department,” Thompson said. “In order for them to get to tonight, there’s a couple of things they have to accomplish — successfully completing the Mass. Firefighting Academy, a training program and their one-year probation.”
Mullin grew up in Abington, graduating high school in 2006 and working in the EMS field for eight years. Heffernan grew up in Middleboro, graduating from Bristol-Plymouth Regional in 2008 and has worked in EMS for six years.
Mullin’s badge was pinned on by her grandmother, Nancy Monahan and Heffernan’s badge was pinned by his mother Kelly after each, in turn, was sworn in by Town Clerk Beth Sloan.
New Town Administrator Michael McCue also sat in on the meeting in advance of his May 9 start on the job.