As the waterfront summer scene heats up after a year-long COVID-induced hiatus, businesses, residents and the city are still wondering what to do about the noise and heckling coming from Water Street establishments.
The city council was recalled this Monday evening, during the public consultation during the first in-person meeting of the panel since March 2020.
“It’s been hell – they speed up, they’re drunk every night,” King Street resident Robert Black said of patrons frequenting Water Street restaurants and bars. Black said it started to get bad on Tuesday night and didn’t fade until Sunday. “It was really terrible.”
Two other King Street residents, who asked to remain anonymous, said the noise and heckling this year compared to previous summers was non-pandemic.
A June police report described a scene of underage drinking and over-serving by bartenders at Blu on the Water, but did not include any charges.
“I’ve been working on this bar detail for at least four summers, with the exception of 2020, and the whole scene has declined rapidly,” the officer wrote. “I think it negatively affects the city and the surrounding residents and businesses. “
A week later, there were three men accused of assault in separate incidents at Blu, each involving fighting.
Police Chief Stephen Brown said the police department saw no more problems or arrests than usual compared to previous summers.
Residents have been complaining about noise levels for years, so city council passed a new noise ordinance in November 2019 that lowered the decibel limit. from 75dbC and 70dbA to 65dbC and 60dbA. The owners of Blu filed a federal lawsuit against the city, arguing the ordinance was hurting their business, citing the importance of outdoor music.
City attorney Andy Teitz said the city will continue to monitor complaints while attending mediation sessions with Blu.
“We are exploring the possibilities of trying to work things out,” city lawyer Andy Teitz said last week. “In the meantime, we are monitoring and listening to complaints. Last summer we couldn’t do it at all because there weren’t any large gatherings.
Blu on the Water attorney Jeff Gladstone said the tavern is currently in litigation with the city to resolve the issues. He said Blu on the Water is a good corporate citizen and is working with the city to resolve issues. He declined to comment further, citing the dispute.
Blu on the Water director Brendon Chelo said the facility checks IDs from 9 p.m. and anyone over 21 is required to wear a bracelet. Chelo, whose family owns Blu, declined to comment on the noise, guest behavior or music ordinance, also citing the ongoing litigation.
According to Connor Finn, manager of Finn’s Harborside and sons of owners Mark and Carol Finn, this tavern has limited musicians to three groups or less since last summer to comply with the ordinance. Finn said that because the tavern is close to the street and an area that resonates over the water, Finn’s Harborside has mostly played acoustic musicians and uses a sound system to limit maximum output.
“We would like some of these big groups to come with hundreds of people on the outside, but we were able to adapt and learn how to generate income in different ways,” said Finn. “Times are changing unfortunately. I’m sure a lot of clients miss the big bands, but we were certainly able to adjust to them pretty quickly.
Regarding the heckling, Finn said it has to happen at the water’s edge and establishments cannot control what individuals are doing. However, he said all of their bartenders knew when to cut someone off the drinks. He added that the tavern no longer had a college night, which Finn said tended to be the most rowdy, and that Finn’s Harborside attracts an older, family-oriented population compared to other places.
A third restaurant on Water Street (formerly Nautika) will open later this month, but they have not applied for any entertainment license.
Chief Brown said despite the Blu lawsuit, the department will enforce the noise ordinance as it always has. Ultimately, he hopes that the conflicts will subside through negotiation and compromise.
“It’s very difficult to appease both sides,” Brown said. “Businesses want to make money and residents want peace and quiet. We work with everyone there. At some point, they may find a happy medium.
Elizabeth McNamara contributed to this report.
Learn more about the noise issue at the water’s edge here:
Noise ordinance approved without fanfare
Noise ordinance draws closer to adoption
Letter to the editor: the proposed changes to the noise ordinance will be detrimental to local businesses
Talk about the noise at the water’s edge getting loud
Noise ordinance maintained again; Restaurants say the waterfront will be more livable
Council approves waterfront noise study and puts noise ordinance on hold
Ordinance on noise still on the table but compromise sought
Letter to the Editor: Resentments of Blu Stokes Patrons
Waterfront restaurants fight noise ordinance
Council hears about noise at the water’s edge, drunkenness and parking problems; Takes into account stricter rules
Enjoying the news you get here on East Greenwich News? Consider supporting it by becoming a benefactor or by making a donation! Special incentive: Donations received until December 31, 2020 will be matched by the Institute for Nonprofit News. We are a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization dedicated to keeping East Greenwich a knowledgeable community, but we need the support of our readers! Click the Donate button below or send a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., East Greenwich, RI 02818. Thank you.