Andy Buchanon addresses members of the Essex Town Board about the prohibition of alcohol on town properties during its Oct. 18 meeting.
A ban of alcohol on Essex town property will continue to remain in place for the Whallonsburg Grange Hall, for now.
The town council tabled a resolution to rescind the town property prohibition of libations so members of the council could meet with members of the Grange Association.
The original resolution to ban alcohol on property was passed in August and based on an event that was being held at the Grange Hall.
“The Grange had an upcoming event and someone saw the flier and then brought it to the town,” Supervisor Sharon Boisen said. “We did not know that there was alcohol being served on any town property and we met to discuss the matter and decided that from that point forward we would no longer allow it.”
Councilmen James LaForest and Mark Wrisley, who both were unable to attend the August meeting, moved for the resolutions passage before tabling it for further discussions.
“I do not think that we are talking about anybody using the Grange as a bar,” LaForest said. “We are talking about responsible adults having a few drinks.”
“I would think that with the right set of restrictions, I would not have a problem with it,” Wrisley said.
LaForest then asked to have the meetings with members of the Grange committee and any other residents who wanted to be involved.
The discussion was started by Association President Andy Buchanon, who said the issue was “really an important question” for the Grange.
This has a substantial impact on the capacity of the Grange to bring income in,” Buchanon said. “When we heard about the decision, we had a number of talks with our insurance agent, which is the same one the town has, and there are policies and protections in place. We are not talking about rock concerts or teens running around drinking.”
Buchanon was followed by Mac MacDevitt of the Prevention Team, who spoke against the town rescinding the decree.
“If you reverse this policy, in a sense you are promoting the use of alcohol by making it OK on town property,” MacDevitt said. “The power you own is when you own these properties and you are the landlord. In this case, it seems like it would be very responsible, but you would be promoting alcohol use.”
After the remarks, Boisen along with council members Claire LaPine and Harold MacDougal said they would continue to support the ban on all properties, including the Grange.
“I feel that we need to protect the public and I do not support it,” Boisen said.
“I stick by it,” LaPine said. “I do not want the liability.”
“I have been in a bar many times and was there for the purpose of a drink,” MacDougal said. “I have never had a bartender cut me off. I am not changing my mind.”
Buchanon, who became frustrated during the board comments, fired back.
“I am not in favor of government bodies determining how and where I can enjoy something,” he said angrily. “If you could tell me one time when there has been one issue with the Grange, then we could have this discussion, but you can’t.”
“We support the events, but this is the taxpayers’ property and that is where I am coming from,” Boisen responded.
“I have a problem with you saying that we are not allowing people to have their functions,” LaPine said to Buchanon. “I don’t see it. We could all move to Argyle and be a completely dry town and then this would also not be a topic for discussion that way.”