Rusty Anchor Plans Shuttle Service For New Event Space
Scott Graves, the owner of the members-only club on Pontoosuc Lake, in the former boathouse formerly owned by the YMCA, renovated its second-floor last year and is now looking to host events there.
He's asking the city to increase the occupancy in the structure from 100 people to 180. However, the establishment has little off-street parking.
Graves has now put together a plan to shuttle eventgoers from property owned by the Pen-Ro Group at the intersection of Peck's Road and Valentine to the location.
"Anytime there is a guest that comes to the event, they have to be notified where to park," said attorney Michael Valenti, who is representing Graves.
Graves had purchased the building in 2012 and rehabbed it as a private marina club. He reached an agreement with the city that there would be 50 members and that club would use some of the public parking spots at the lake.
Last year, Graves invested more into the property to welcome events such as baby and bridal showers, office gatherings, birthday or retirement parties. The second floor was redone -- and included a significant number of fire suppression upgrades because it is classified as a nightclub by the city, a classification Graves attempted to appeal because of the additional costs.
Now with the space ready to go for the April 1 reopening of the marina, Graves needs a waiver from the parking requirement. The plan is to keep the existing membership parking agreements in place and require all event goers to use the shuttle. The use of a shuttle service replicates the concept Proprietor's Lodge is using to alleviate parking issues at another section of the lake, which was recently approved.
For the Rusty Anchor, Valenti said there will be a parking attendant in each lot, one to ensure eventgoers aren't taking up the spots for members or spots for the general public at the Rusty Anchor and another at the Pen-Ro site to do the shuttling. Valenti said the attendants will be there to help arrange vehicles in the small lot next to the building because often people park poorly.
Valenti said the accountability factor is that the issue is readdressed each time a certificate of occupancy is granted for operations.
Graves added that he also consulted with the Friends of Pontoosuc and he'll accommodate those requests, too, which include installing a bike rack and limiting the size of boats and docks, and that the shuttle does not traverse through Highland and Hancock roads but instead down Wahconah and North Street.
The Rusty Anchor had about a dozen members attend Tuesday's Community Development Board hearing in support of the plan. The attorney for the Pines at Pontoosuc Lake, Andrew Hochberg, however, raised some questions.
Hochberg said the Pines didn't want the permit to be rejected completely but wanted efforts made to reduce trash left behind in the parking area, that the public park is monitored, that noise is kept under control, and that additional parking attendants are brought on.
"If they have one attendant, I'm not sure if that is going to be enough depending on the size of the event," he said.
Hochberg mentioned noise saying, "with more people, there is going to be more noise" and that the condominium association needs to protect the value the property owners there currently have. He had concerns that additional noise would hinder resale values.
Graves responded to the questions about noise saying the renovations limit the noise that will emanate from the building during an event. He said any noise would be related to an acoustic guitar player on the deck, which was already approved in 2017.
"I did make sure I am insulated for noise on the second floor," he said.
Also relating the noise, Graves said there is no dance floor or anything like that. He said, "I don't want anything to do with a nightclub" and said the establishment is shut down by 11 p.m. nearly every night.
With garbage in the lot and the park, Graves pointed the finger to another group of people. He said every year there is a large group of some 200 people who use the nearby camp and hold a large event at the lake. Graves said city officials have told him to call the police but he'd "hate to rain on some else's parade." He said beyond that one weekend, Graves said the public areas are typically kept clean.
"I'm there seven days a week, I spent over $40,000 beautifying the city property," Graves said.
He said he put in lighting and landscaping on the city's land that abuts his property. The members who attended all spoke about how the Rusty Anchor is a low key type of establishment that doesn't have the boisterous crowd like other bars in the area.
"It was such a low key place. There is no hard alcohol. It is just beer and wine, no one gets drunk, Scott doesn't allow it. The moment anybody causes any type of trouble, you are out the door," said Margaret Ciepiela, who started going there as a guest of a member and later got hired as a bartender.
The Community Development Board was impressed with the plan.
Tags: parking, Planning Board, Pontoosuc,
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