Hadley will continue to collect inspection fees for events at Young Men’s Club

The town of Hadley agreed last week to continue to collect inspection  fees from the Young Men’s Club and Pavilion in Hadley for three large events to be held at the club this year.

The town of Hadley agreed last week to continue to collect inspection fees from the Young Men’s Club and Pavilion in Hadley for three large events to be held at the club this year. gazette file photo

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 03-14-2024 3:05 PM

HADLEY — The town will continue to collect municipal fees associated with inspections for concerts and events drawing in excess of 1,000 people at the Young Men’s Club, with Select Board members saying the town can’t subsidize events at a private club even if those events raise money for charity.

The Select Board voted 4-1 at its March 6 meeting, with member Joyce Chunglo voting no, to not waive various inspection fees for events at the 138 East St. club scheduled for April 27, June 22 and Oct. 19.

John Mieczkowsi Jr., treasurer for the club, said the costs of security, police and fire are being paid by the club, but organizers hoped the town would eliminate payments for inspections for the Country in the Country music festival, with proceeds going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, while the SpringFest and OctoberFest, daylong events of music and entertainment primarily for local college students, have raised money for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, research.

“It’s less money we can give to St. Jude’s at the end of the day; it’s less money they can give to ALS at the end of the day,” Mieczkowski said

Licensing Coordinator Jennifer Sanders James said food vendors, tents and stages all have to be inspected. Select Board member Molly Keegan said she appreciates that each event is a benefit, but the town can’t deprive itself of money.

Select Board member Randy Izer said he worried that asking for inspection fees to be waived might become common. “If we grant this, who’s to stop everybody else in town from coming and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this event we’re doing, and we want to get the inspection fees waived,’ ” Izer said.

Even as tickets are already being sold for the large-scale events as well as smaller events scheduled at the club’s pavilion, there is a possibility that the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission may not approve the use of the property for them. While the Select Board in February granted one-day liquor licenses for the large events, those were contingent on an OK from the ABCC, but a state investigator returned the application with no action.

Asparagus Festival OK’d

Meanwhile, the board approved a one-day liquor license and use of the town common for New England Public Media’s Asparagus Festival, marking its 10th anniversary when it is held on June 1.

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Nevinsmith said the event, though, has posed difficulties for the town with both traffic and public safety, and there are questions about whether such a disruption is worth it and whether Hadley is being adequately reimbursed.

The board is likely to discuss that topic as part of its regulations related to use of the town common, where it has made efforts in recent years to protect the greenspace, including prohibiting parking alongside it in the area of Esselon restaurant.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.