John Kerwood is hoping to reopen the Polish Community Club.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — John Kerwood is trying to save the Polish Club.
The Polish Community Club has been shut down for the entirety of 2015 and Kerwood is working through the process to reopen.
Kerwood updated the Licensing Board on Monday about the series of planning and approvals the club needs to reopen this spring.
"We closed at the end of December so in 2015 it wasn't open," Kerwood said. "My realistic goal would be to open as soon as spring time."
In July of 2014 Stella Spence, a past president of the club and licensee for the club's liquor license, died and there was no formal manager hired to replace her. In August 2014, Police responded to a fight there and found no manager on duty. The Licensing Board brought the club before it and demanded the club to hire a manager.
Club officials said others had picked up the responsibilities but no one was appointed manager. The club's tradition was to appoint the president but the Licensing Board rejected continuing that practice when the sergeant at arms was proposed to take over.
Since then, Kerwood has been trying to get the club's affairs in order. He ran into struggles getting into bank accounts and tax returns which had Spence's name on them. Kerwood said the Board of Directors hadn't provided much help and now the club needs to elect new leadership. From there, the new leaders will meet with a financial advisor and attempt to get a loan to reopen.
"We've got our business plan started," Kerwood said.
The club is sending out letters this week to members to hold a meeting. From there, it will take another two weeks, per club bylaws, to hold an election of officers. Kerwood paid the licensing fees to keep the liquor license in 2015 and plans to do the same for 2016. Kerwood said he is hoping to get a loan to replace the club's furnace.
By the end of January, he hopes to have a new board of directors, access to the club's bank accounts, and then set up a meeting with Greylock Federal Credit Union to discuss the loan. Concurrently, the club is looking for a new manager and an attorney.
The Licensing Board took no action on the inactive license but asked for Kerwood to return in March with another update. Board member Richard Stockwell advised Kerwood to focus on getting a new manager for the club.
"You've got to find a manager to run this place, someone who knows what they are doing on day 1," Stockwell said.
In other business, the Licensing Board approved an annual fee of $75 for those selling beer and wine at a farmer's market. Christian Hansen, owner of Balderdash Cellars, brought the policy to the board after being in line to pay a $50 fee three times in 2016.
He received a permit to sell at some 20 farmer's market during the summer. When the winter came, the Pittsfield Farmer's Market moved the event indoors at the Boys and Girls Club. With the change in location, Hansen then had to change his application, which called for anther $50 fee. In 2016, he would be asked to apply for the first couple indoor markets for $50, and then $50 to change it back to the First Street Common, and then $50 to go back to the Boys and Girls Club in the winter.
"The point wasn't for one person to be charged three times," said Licensing Board member Dana Doyle.
After some debate of what the charge should be, the Licensing Board approved a $75 fee for the entire calendar year for that one Farmer's Market. Hansen will now only pay the $75 fee for all 26 events.
At first the Licensing Board considered a $100 fee but there was debate over whether or not that was too much. A seasonal license costs $410 and allows for the vendor to sell every day between April and November.
"If I could sell wine on the Common for $4 a day, I think I'd be doing fine," Stockwell said.
Ultimately, the board reached a 4-1 approval of the $75 fee, with Chairman Carmen Massimiano opposing the number, and instead looking for a $100 fee.
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