BARRE TOWN — Local officials are ready to adopt an ordinance change concerning conduct in recreation areas.
The change comes because the town is in possession of the recreation area next to the Barre Town Middle and Elementary School. In 2016, the School Board asked the town if it would be interested in acquiring 28 acres of land the school owned. The thought process was to make sure the town kept control of the land in the event the Barre schools merged in accordance with the Act 46 school consolidation law.
The Recreation Board reviewed the town’s current ordinance and made changes to make sure conduct prohibited in other recreation areas the town owns, such as playgrounds, applies to the recreation area at the school.
The board has been making tweaks to the ordinance change over the past few weeks.
At its regular meeting this week, the Select Board held a second hearing on the ordinance change. Assistant Town Manager Elaine Wang said the change takes care of marijuana use in recreation areas, taking into account the state law now allowing possession and recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. It also addresses long-held concerns about alcohol use at the recreation field.
The latest tweak to the ordinance allows for the consumption of alcohol only at the picnic shelter at the field and only during events that have been reserved in advance with the town. There had been some discussion about prohibiting any consumption of alcohol at the recreation field, at the urging of the Recreation Board, but officials felt such a prohibition went too far and may have kept people from holding events at the picnic shelter.
For marijuana, any use is prohibited at the recreation field, but possession is not. The town’s attorney, Michael Monte, has advised the town that it cannot prohibit the possession of marijuana under the new state law.
The ordinance also covers bicycle paths, the town forest and any other recreation areas the town owns so it would bar marijuana use in those areas as well. Anyone found violating the ordinance may receive a citation from police.
The Select Board approved a motion advancing the ordinance change for its expected adoption at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday.