LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectmen has a message for the Skyline Country Club: the parties are starting to get out of hand.
Skyline owner Jim Mitus has been leasing the clubhouse to a local event organizers Mad Crew three or four nights a year for the last few years. During each of the last three events, however, police had to respond to an array of issues. Town officials had somewhat of an intervention on Monday as they asked Mitus to keep a closer eye on those parties.
"I just don't want this to be the next Chameleons or the next Pepes. I know you run a clean house but unfortunately, stuff is kind of accumulating and we're worried about it," Police Chief Timothy Sorrell told Mitus on Monday.
The most recent incident occurred in the early hours of April 28, when Officer Brennan Polidoro was the only officer on duty.
Polidoro said he saw two vehicles parked at the end of the Skyline's driveway. He heard laughter and then a gunshot. Immediately one of the vehicles drove off and Polidoro responded to the remaining car. The driver apparently told him it was only a BB gun.
"I've been a police officer for five years, I don't think that's what a small caliber gunshot sounds like. That was a gunshot," Polidoro said.
Polidoro put out a "be on the lookout" notification for Pittsfield Police and the vehicle in question was stopped about an hour and a half later, he said. Pittsfield Police allegedly found 40 caliber ammunition in that vehicle.
"He says it was fireworks but it was not fireworks," Polidoro said.
Mitus, however, said there was little he could do about that. The alleged gunshot occurred as people were leaving his property, down the hill from his clubhouse.
"If somebody is leaving my property, what am I supposed to do?" Mitus said.
That same evening and early morning, Polidoro made an arrested someone leaving the Skyline for driving under the influence and fielded a noise complaint about the party.
Sorrell said those aren't the only reports stemming from those events.
He said during a Halloween party, police had to respond to an attempted motor vehicle theft. And during an "ugly sweater" Christmas party, officers responded to a physical and verbal fight between two women. Also during that December party, police arrested another individual who had just left the party for a DUI on the Connector Road and the vehicle of another person who had been drinking there slid off the Skyline's driveway and into a tree.
Sorrell added the Skyline doesn't have a crowd manager that is required for "nightclub/disco" type events and that the fire chief questioned photos posted online showing smoke in the building.
"The fire chief had an issue with smoke in the building. He seems to think you had to have shut off smoke detectors if that was going on. And then we had an issue with them playing beer pong ... it is a violation, it is enticement of intoxication," Sorrell said.
Despite a 34-year track record of not having such problems, town officials are hoping Mitus will address the recent issues. Sorrell said Mitus doesn't have to stop leasing for those events, but rather just keep things under better control before things get worse.
Board of Selectman Chairman John Goerlach said back in October he had reached out to Mitus to make him aware that the number of incidents was piling up. But since then, more problems have occurred. The Selectmen called on Mitus to answer to the full board on Monday as it serves as the licensing authority.
Mitus said he has already been considering cutting ties with the event organizers. Particularly, he is worried about the country club being known as more of a nightclub.
"The money is good. But there's a lot of aggravation. I am there until 4 a.m. I am on pins and needles all night," Mitus said. "I've been wondering if it is worth it because I don't want a reputation."
He later added that the wrong reputation could ultimately deter people from booking weddings. "We just fixed our place up. I've got a nice place up there. I follow the rules, obey the laws. I pay my taxes. I don't want to become a 'who's the DJ tonight?" kind of place," Mitus said.
"I have three or four of those a year. I'll stop doing them. That's not a problem."
Mitus said he was a little caught off guard that there are issues. He said the group does "a pretty good job of controlling it" and has been in business organizing such events for five years -- getting its start at the former Chameleons.
"I didn't know anything about any of this stuff," he said.
Goerlach said for the 12 years he's been on the board, he's never had an issue at the Skyline. Sorrell remembered when he alerted Mitus to an event booked there that was going to attract a "bad crowd" and Mitus canceled it. And Mitus agrees, saying he bets "cops haven't been here 10 times" since he's owned the club.
The Selectmen are being a little pre-emptive. But, when there started to be a number of similar issues at the Garden Grill fairly recently, the Police Department ultimately ended up stationing an officer outside of the restaurant during events. Police don't want to have to do that again.
"They're going to create trouble for you. We ended up having officers outside of the Garden and it drove his business away. We don't want to have to do that," Goerlach said.
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police Chief Timothy Sorrell will be retiring after serving five years in the position.
Sorrell was appointed chief in 2015 after serving in the Police Department for 28 years. He started full time in Lanesborough in 1987 as a patrolman. He served as sergeant for 12 years and was a finalist for the chief's position when the town decided to hire Mark Bashara. He then served as an investigator for twelve years under Bashara before getting the spot spot upon his retirement in 2015.
When asked for comment on Sorrell's departure on Monday, the Board of Selectmen said almost in unison, "he will be missed" and they all wished him luck along with Town Manager Kelli Robbins.
The process of finding his replacement was started immediately as the board wasted no time in forming a search committee.
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