The announcement was greeted with applause from the attendees.
Nearly two dozen people took part in the public comments, which were supposed to be limited to two minutes each but were often interrupted by board members offering clarification.
Brian Baker, a Connecticut resident and Block Island homeowner for 30 years, said his friends asked him to comment on the meeting.
“I’m talking about our love for Block Island,” Baker said. “I would like to ask where is the owner of Ballard’s?” Is he here? It’s cowardly of him not to be there.
Ballard owner Steven Filippi did not attend the meeting.
“Everyone has the right to earn money for their business,” Baker said. “But the company must be worthy.”
“I’ve been coming here since 1954. Our big night was Ballard’s,” he continued. “Steve’s dad used to treat us and bring us… We started coming when we were kids – family night, lobster night. It’s a parody.
John Cotter, a part-time resident who spends summers on the island, said he welcomes “day trippers” who visit and support local businesses. But booze and crowds can be a problem. “It’s not great when you’re not looking at what’s happening in front of you: visibly intoxicated people,” he says. “I ask that the council consider that this is not a new problem. … How many people go out on a given day?
John Willis, a 40-year-old resident, criticized the council for failing to hire a permanent police chief after Chief Matthew Moynihan left for a post in South Kingstown in May.
“We had a police chief for 17 years,” Willis said. “He quit because he couldn’t get along with any of you, including our managing director. He entered a honeycomb. You gave her a home that no woman would ever want to live in.
One of the candidates for the post of chief withdrew earlier this year. Captain Peter Chabot has served as acting chief since June, and Chip Anderson will take over as acting chief from August 15.
“I don’t think we need a city council or a city manager,” Willis said. “We need a police service.
Monica Hull-Shea, 78, called bad behavior on the island “appalling” and shouted at council members for failing to resolve issues with Ballard’s after the Fourth of July. City attorney Nick Solitro said there was still no action to report and it would be unwise for council to comment.
Several speakers said they had seen underage drinking in town and admitted to jumping a fence to enter Ballard’s themselves. Monday night during the music festival, some said the area was overcrowded.
“It seemed like the perfect setting for something bad to happen,” Monica Rales said. “We left soon after because it was not a pleasant experience for us.”
Resident Christopher Blane said if Ballard’s is hosting large-scale events, it should be responsible for hiring its own boat charters to accommodate the large number of guests, rather than flooding the Block Island Ferry service with passengers .
Steven Brunelle, a vacationer on Block Island since around 1993, was one of the only people to speak up for Ballard’s and received a chorus of boos during his comments.
He said the overcrowding problem spans the entire island and is a problem shared by all businesses in the city.
“It’s everywhere, we have a lot of problems,” Brunelle said. “Ballard’s is not the demon you claim to be. Ballard’s draws a large crowd for an event. He (Steven Filippi) asks the Chief of Police if he can hire additional officers. … He wants to pay for security. He is denied security.
Commentators have suggested that Ballard’s install barriers to separate the public beach from the private beach and prevent people from breaking the law by bringing open containers of alcohol onto the public beach. Others have suggested that New Shoreham or the company that operates the Block Island Ferry, Interstate Navigation, is limiting the number of visitors to the island.
On Tuesday, Pawtucket’s Bruce Darelius told The Globe that Ballard’s was “complete chaos” on Monday. He recorded one fight on his phone, but said “there were three or four before that”. WPRI-TV reported that a fight at Ballard’s on Monday led to the cancellation of the upcoming Roots and Rhythms Festival Festival on August 21.
The turmoil spread to the Block Island ferry line, where hundreds of people waited to return to mainland Rhode Island. Additional and unscheduled ferries were used to handle large crowds.
According to state police, the scuffle on the ferry began around 9:35 p.m. State troopers and officers from Narragansett, North Kingstown and South Kingstown Police Departments responded to a report of a disruption on the Block Island ferry as it returned to the port of Galilee.
Emergency services and law enforcement boarded the ferry, secured the vessel and arrested those involved.
Rhode Island State Police said Tuesday that seven people were arrested in connection with the scuffle. Michael Carvalho, 26, of Providence; Abdou Njie, 37, from Pawtucket; Trent Manning, 32, of Providence; Deavon Silva, 20, of Pawtucket; and Miguel G. Silva, 36, of Providence, were all charged with disorderly conduct. Laurie R. Cassandra, 30, of Providence, was charged with obstructing an officer in the performance of his duties. Chevron R. Towns, 20, of Providence, was charged with weapons other than prohibited firearms. Jacob Dorbor, 30, of Providence, was arrested earlier Monday at Ballard’s home and charged with disorderly conduct.
The suspects were transported to Wickford Barracks where they were arraigned before a justice of the peace and released with pending dates in Fourth District Court, state police said in the statement.
City Council on Thursday asked those who “want to be part of the solution” to email videos, photos and statements to Deputy City Clerk Millie McGinnes. Submissions can be used to select witnesses for the city attorney to present to the liquor licensing board.
Carlos Muñoz can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ReadCarlos and on Instagram @Carlosbrknews. Alexa Gagosz can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.