BARRE — The owners of a Prospect Street bar that was recently cited for violating state liquor law will be called before the City Council in a move that one member hopes will be a warning to the operators of other local establishments.
Councilor Paul Poirier described Gusto’s owners Gary and Jean Gosselin as friends of his Tuesday night but said it is time for the council to revive the more active role it once played as the local liquor control board. He wants to require the owners of bars and nightclubs cited for multiple violations to come in and explain themselves.
According to Poirier, Gusto’s has been cited for “over-serving” patrons at least once before, and that’s the sort of red flag he believes the council needs to monitor more closely.
“That’s not the first time … where they have been cited for serving intoxicated people,” Poirier said, referring to a violation a month ago that was allegedly observed by a state liquor inspector.
The Gosselins didn’t contest the violation and paid a $500 fine, but Poirier said he wants to hear from them and — in the future — others like them.
“I would like (the Gosselins) to come in, and I would like us to do this with other establishments,” he told councilors Tuesday night.
It isn’t personal, according to Poirier, who spoke highly of the Gosselins while stressing that he believes the council needs to be more aggressive when it comes to regulating bars and nightclubs in the community.
“This happens to be the Gosselins who are friends of mine, but I just think we need to send a message to all the other establishments in town,” he said.
With the long-awaited reconstruction of North Main Street scheduled to be substantially complete by the middle of next month, renovations to the historic Aldrich and Blanchard blocks already under way and work on City Place expected to start before the end of the year, Poirier said it is incumbent on the council to make sure those investments aren’t wasted.
“(A) $30 million (to) $40 million facelift on Main Street without going after some of these social and cultural problems we have in this community, as far as I’m concerned, is just a nice fancy Main Street with the same problems,” he said.
According to Poirier, the potential solutions include proposed revisions to the local trash ordinance that were the subject of a vote earlier in the evening, as well as renewed efforts to enforce minimum housing standards and crack down on drug trafficking.
“I think now is the opportunity for us to say: ‘This is not just a new beginning commercially … we’re going to change the culture in Barre and we’re going to use everything at our disposal to do it,’” he said.
Mayor Thomas Lauzon said he had no problem with requiring those cited for multiple violations of the state’s liquor laws to come before the council but had trouble pinning Poirier down on the specifics. It was unclear whether Poirier wanted to hear from anyone who had more than one violation whether they occurred in the same calendar year or 10 years apart.
Poirier never fully answered that question but did make it clear he wants to hear from multiple offenders.
“I think any establishment that we hear of that has been cited at least twice needs to come in for a face-to-face meeting with us,” he said.
Based on Poirier’s request, City Manager Steve Mackenzie said he would contact the Gosselins and make arrangements for them to attend an upcoming council meeting.
Poirier, who represents Barre in the House as an independent, is locked in a three-way legislative race with Rep. Tess Taylor, D-Barre, and Republican John Santorello. Two of the three will be elected by Granite City voters Nov. 6 to represent the city.
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