ADAMS, Mass. — The town may establish a uniform closing time for all town bars to combat disruptive crowds.
Police Chief Richard Tarsa has asked the Selectmen to consider creating a uniform closing time of 1:30 a.m. with last call at 1 a.m. to stop disorderly crowds from bar hopping.
"I am not here to shut anyone down. I am here to help a situation and stop a potential disastrous problem down the road," Tarsa told the board on Wednesday night. "This will affect every bar so the problem cannot relocate ... I am not pointing my finger at one bar, the problem is the people."
However, he said the main issue is that the PNA gives last call at 1 a.m. and patrons make their way down Victory Street to The Grille to try to make last call at 1:30. He said The Grille, on Summer Street, often locks its doors at 1:30 for crowd control, but a crowd still accumulates outside of the bar.
"The PNA patrons still try to get into The Grille and they are congregating on the street and at times it is not uncommon to have more than 30 people there sometimes, spilling out into the intersection," Tarsa said.
Tarsa said he did not have a problem with the way the bars handled their crowds. But sometimes patrons from the PNA and other bars get unruly when they are denied access to The Grille.
He said the problem tends to intensify when there is live entertainment.
This is not only a public safety concern but an officer safety concern, the chief said, especially when there are limited officers to disperse the crowd.
"There is a big problem over there and it is raising concern for law enforcement and should be raising the concerns of those who live there," he said.
Selectman John Duval asked if it was possible to have extra police on staff during weekend nights when bars close.
Tarsa said he would want two extra officers on duty and it would mean a higher overtime cost.
Selectwoman Christine Hoyt felt forcing bars to close earlier would just move the problem up earlier.
Tarsa agreed it would still cause issues but trouble seemed to amplify as the night goes on.
Selectman Joseph Nowak felt it would not fair to force all bars to close earlier when they don't have problems.
Tracey Lesage Wojcik from Wojo's Bar on Spring Street said her bar's clientele is older crowd and there are far fewer issues on that side of town.
"I don't know that we have had huge problems and I agree with everyone, but I don't think it should affect me," she said. "I think it's different crowds and different age groups and where you gather is where you are going to go."
Tarsa said it will only work if everyone closes at the same time.
"The problem is that they are going from one bar to the other and their problems go with them," he said. "We just can't look at two bars because they will go to whoever is open later."
Selectman Richard Blanchard went as far as to say the town should force all bars to stay open until 2 a.m.
Dan Paciorek, who owns The Grille, attributed the issue to DJs and said although he makes it a point to hire local DJs who don't have a reputation of attracting troublesome crowds, they still often draw stragglers from surrounding bars at night's close.
Paciorek said he always liked to stay open late, more so on weekdays, for those who work late.
"During the week, all of the other places close at 10 but I have people who come in when they get out of work," he said. "I don't have any problems and they just come in and play pool and they love their quiz games."
Paciorek said because he wants to be able to stay open late and does not want to hurt any of the other bars in town, he will no longer have DJs.
"I don't think any other bar owners should suffer and they should not have to close early because of something that is happening on Summer Street," he said. "I am going to say it right now: I am dropping DJs. I don't need this stuff and the Adams Police don't need it."
Paciorek said he will still allow bands to play at The Grille.
The board will make a ruling at a future meeting.
In other business, the town will ask the state to allow more liquor licenses in target economic development areas such as the Greylock Glen and the downtown.
"We would go for six to eight licenses that will be added to our pool in that area," Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said. "When the glen gets up in running, it is going to require several licenses and, hopefully, that spurs activity in the downtown."
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