First Friday event has new street closure plan

  • Shoppers mill around downtown Athol as vendors set up during the recent First Friday event on Main Street. The next event will be held June 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/22/2018 10:52:05 PM
Modified: 5/22/2018 10:52:12 PM

ATHOL — In response to feedback from the May 4 First Friday event held in downtown Athol, Selectwoman Holly Young said a few changes will be made for the June 1 downtown festival.

Young said there were some complaints about there not being enough notice on the closure of Main Street for the May event. Young, Town Manager Shaun Suhoski, Police Chief Russell Kleber, Fire Chief John Duguay and Department of Public Works Superintendent Doug Walsh met to come up with an alternative traffic plan to “inconvenience people the least amount of time as possible.”

The agreed upon plan is to close Main Street from 4 to 8 p.m. during First Friday each month to help with the bus and regular traffic flow. Another major change is that the street will be blocked off from Exchange Street to the Athol House of Pizza Restaurant to allow traffic to turn down Island Street (a one-way street) to accommodate motorists. The changes were approved by the selectmen.

Food and wine permit

Sean Mahoney’s application for a multi-day food and wine permit for the First Friday events for June 1, July 6, Aug. 3, Sept. 7 and Oct. 5 was amended to one event. Mahoney, the general manager of The Blind Pig restaurant at 98 Exchange St., said the restaurant wants to get involved in the First Friday festivals by hosting a beer garden/food event on Main Street during those events. He noted that because the restaurant is “not on the main drag, it is difficult for them to be involved in the event.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to get out and let people know that we are here around that corner and support downtown, as well,” said Mahoney.

He said he will operate in an area in front of D’Ambrosio Eye Care Inc., marked off with ropes and stanchions under a tent. The area will have a table, a bartender and a cook. The section where beer will be served will be roped off.

Selectman Lee Chauvette asked Town Counsel John Barrett if a holder of a full-liquor license can be granted a one-day wine and malt liquor license. Barrett said for a special event, off-premises it is permitted.

Selectwoman Rebecca Bialecki voiced concern about serving alcohol in the street. She said, “It’s a tough thing to supervise,” and to insure the right practices are in place. She requested the motion for the multi-day permit be amended to a single event (June 1), with the ability to return and apply for the subsequent dates, if it goes well. Chauvette, who made the motion, agreed. Holly Young, who originally seconded the motion, said she would not second the amendment. “They do this for the Fall Festival and there’s never any problem.” Bialecki said she never supported that either.

Young, who spearheaded the event, said, “He’s a licensed business. When you have a full license, you have to get a separate permit to operate a one-day event. There are a lot of stringent rules that go with it,” she said, “he knows all that ... I’m thankful that he’s going to be involved in the First Friday events to help get those going.”

Chauvette said the only time a beer garden was approved was during the Fall Festival. It was located directly outside the restaurant that held a full-liquor license, and had 10 staff rotating all day long, as well as security. He said he wanted to make sure Mahoney will be able to control it.

Young said that in this instance, the staff will be there for the duration.

The Fall Festival is held from morning to afternoon. First Fridays provide a four-hour time frame, including set-up and clean-up, and are being held monthly through the fall.

Young said, “I just know he (Mahoney) will follow the rules and make sure his regular liquor license isn’t on the line.”

Chairman Stephen Raymond called for a second to the amended motion and it was approved. Mahoney said he understood that he would have to return for the additional dates.

Those interested may visit the Athol First Friday Facebook page. From there, a vendor permit and waiver can be downloaded, which must be signed by all vendors, releasing the town of all liability. It should be returned by email to Young at Those not on Facebook may find the document at:

AHS Repair Project

Chauvette briefly reported on the Athol High School Accelerated Repair Project, which was approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority earlier this year for $10,016,786. Chauvette said sub-contract bids have been awarded, and the general bids will soon be decided. There will be visible activity at the school by the end of June, with construction trailers and office units put in place while school is out. It is estimated the project, which includes replacement of the high school roof, the boiler, windows and doors, will take about 17 months to complete.

The Town of Athol is responsible for $2,270,257, and Royalston will pay $132,131. The estimated impact on the Fiscal Year 2018 tax rate is 29 cents per $1,000 valuation (an additional $42.72 on the average single family home tax bill), assuming a 20-year borrowing at 4.5 percent.

Silver Lake Park follow-up

Suhoski reported the staff did not have time to review all the information put forward by resident David Gaspar from the prior meeting. Gaspar will meet with the staff again, before bringing suggestions back to the board on what items could be accomplished and to work toward a master plan.

Helmet drive

Selectmen approved a permit requested by the Athol-Mahar Youth Sports Helmet Drive for June 2. Collections will be conducted in downtown Athol from 8 a.m. to noon.

E-Edition & Local Ads


athol forecast

Social Media

Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01301
Telephone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.