LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen are warning the manager of the Garden Grill to keep a better eye on the patrons.
Police have been routinely responding to fights breaking out outside of the establishment this summer. The Selectmen are now saying they'll step in and curb hours or force the restaurant to pay for an officer to be present if it continues.
"At this point, after three incidents, you have to do better than your best because if we're going to have to do something if you don't," Chairman John Goerlach told manager Armando Charis on Monday.
Charis explained the most recent incident, saying he had diffused the situation only to have one of the patrons leave and return to the parking lot to continue the argument. Charis said the argument started between two people, whom he believes had problems with each other before. He told one man to leave, which he did. But, the man returned and continued the argument in the parking lot.
"It never happened inside. There was an argument outside and that was it. There was no fight or anything," Charis said.
But that isn't what police were told. Officers were told that the fight began inside and managers told the two men to take it outside but didn't call police. Officers happened to be driving through the parking lot when the fight was occurring.
"It seems to be escalating in that area. What concerned us was that the fight was supposedly inside, you pushed it outside but you did not call the Police Department," Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers said.
Charis said he didn't call the police because there wasn't a fight inside and he was assured one of the men were leaving for good.
Nonetheless, Police Chief Timothy Sorrell said his officers have been logging repeated calls for incidents late at night. He said police were finding people loitering in the parking lot as late as 2:19 a.m. this past weekend.
"I'm seeing a pattern here of stuff going on in the parking lot. This will be three events in three months. I think he has to understand that he is responsible for the parking lot as much as he is his restaurant," Sorrell said.
Charis said last call is at 1:30 a.m. and he has everybody out of the restaurant by 1:45. He said the times he has seen people in the parking lot later than that, he asks them to leave. But, he said he'd make an effort to keep a closer eye on those times.
"We always to make sure everybody is out by 1:45," Charis said.
This isn't the first time Charis has been before the Selectmen, however. Three years ago, an entertainer accidentally set off the fire alarm. But the restaurant wasn't evacuated and firefighters had to fight through crowds to turn the system off. The Selectmen curbed his hours of operations — having him close at 12:30 a.m. — and had him hire an officer to be there during entertainment.
The Selectmen questioned whether that should be the case again, but decided to let Charis off with a warning. The warning is of relief to Charis, who said if he was forced to have an officer present he would lose business.
"If I am going to pay a policeman to be there, I'm going to lose business. People aren't going to come," he said.
In other business, residents of eight streets off Narragansett Avenue crowded the Selectmen's office to discuss a proposal to have their currently unaccepted roads become town roads. Resident Ronald Tinkham had sat on a committee looking at accepting numerous roads in the area and said the eight near the causeway were identified for acceptance this time, and more will be proposed in the future.
Tinkham said the main intent of accepting the roads is to boost the amount of Chapter 90 state road aid the town receives. Town Manager Paul Sieloff said town meeting had already approved plowing and doing a small amount of maintenance on the roads in the past, but since they remain unaccepted, the state doesn't recognize them as being town roads.
"We're essentially doing everything on the roads already," Sieloff said.
The town doesn't expect to do anything major on those roads with the acceptance. Sieloff said there may be some drainage work in the future, depending on state regulations or create turnaround areas for the plows.
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