Williamstown Selectmen Nix Alcohol For Biker RallyBy Andy McKeever
11:00PM / Monday, May 14, 2012
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Motorcycles, alcohol and dirt roads are not a good mix for the Board of Selectmen.
Charles Ransford said anywhere from 500 to 5,000 people could show up to the planned motorcycle rally.
The board voted 4-1 against giving Charles "Rusty" Ransford an alcohol permit for an Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 motorcycle rally at his Hopper Road property.
Ransford is forming a new non-profit organization, Snowford Foundation, and will rent out his property for the organization's first major fundraiser.
The three-day motorcycle rally will feature music, a campout and rides around the county. The profits, after the rental fee, would go to helping war veterans.
However, the Board of Selectmen do not want the event at all and rejected the permit.
"Dirt road, motorcycles, alcohol. No," Selectman Tom Costley bluntly said. "For me, absolutely not. I will never agree to this."
Costley cited the echo in that area, the proximity to children living nearby, a dangerous intersection and Ransford's lack of experience as reasons for his disapproval. He suggested Ransford find another way to raise money for the organization.
"I think it is a terrible idea," Costley said. "I will never approve this because I don't want to take the risk of a tragedy happening."
Ransford said there could be between 500 and 5,000 bikers attending the event with music playing until 11 p.m. He said he wanted the permit to sell alcohol on the premises to help curb the attendees from driving around drunk and reducing the number of trips up and down the road.
The Selectmen questioned the security and how the serving would be controlled. Ransford said a vendor would be serving the alcohol, though he hasn't found one yet, and that a volunteer security staff would be on duty.
"I think it is just too nebulous, a bit to fuzzy," Selectwoman Jane Allen said. "You've left me with a lot of question marks."
Allen was the one board member to vote against rejecting his application because she said they could add stipulations to the permit to help control the event. Police Chief Kyle Johnson said he also had concerns about the event and said it was a "roundabout way to promote drinking and driving."
"I don't think much good can come out of this," Johnson said.
If Ransford does receive non-profit status, he said he will holding the event without the license. According to the local bylaws, a non-profit can host fundraisers.
"I think I will go ahead with the event anyway," Ransford said. "I've got my foot in pretty far now."
While the board rejected the application as outright disapproval of the event, the neighbors were much more open to discussing the details further. Neighbor Donna Weed offered to be the host of a neighborhood meeting with Ransford to address concerns.
"This rally has taken those of us who live on the Hopper by complete surprise," Weed said. "We need some hard and fast details."
Weed said the neighbors are worried about noise levels and traffic.
Ransford offered to return to the board at a later date with the answers to the concerns but the majority of the board members said they could not see an occasion in which they would approve the rally.
"I have a hard time thinking that I could vote for this," Selectmen Ronald Turbin said. "I see it as reckless."
The event came before the board just a day before town meeting, during which voters will decide on allowing farms to host celebrations such as wedding and small concerts. The for-profit farms are not allowed to hold those types of events currently and the bylaw change would allow them.
Ransford said the rental agreement with his own new non-profit would be enough to pay the property taxes on the land.