The announcement was met with applause from attendees.
Nearly two dozen people participated in public comments, which were supposed to be limited to two minutes each but were often interrupted by board members offering clarifications.
Brian Baker, a resident of Connecticut and who has owned a home on Block Island for 30 years, said his friends asked him to comment at the meeting.
“I am speaking for our love of Block Island,” Baker said. “I’d like to ask where the owner of Ballard’s is? Is he here? That’s cowardly for him not to be here.”
Ballard’s owner, Steven Filippi, did not attend the meeting.
“Everyone is entitled to make money for their business,” Baker said. “But the business should be dignified.”
“I’ve been coming here since 1954. Our big night out was Ballard’s,” he continued. “Steve’s father would treat us and bring us in… We started coming as kids — family night, lobster night. This is a travesty.”
John Cotter, a part-time resident who spends summers on the island, said he welcomes the “day trippers” who visit and support local businesses. But drinking and crowds can be a problem “It’s not great when we don’t watch what’s going on in front of us: People visibly intoxicated,” he said. “I request that the council consider this is not a new problem. … How many people come out on a given day?”
John Willis, a 40-year resident, criticized the council for not having hired a permanent police chief after Chief Matthew Moynihan left for a position in South Kingstown in May.
“We had a chief of police for 17 years,” Willis said. “He quit because he couldn’t get along with any of you including our town manager. He stepped into a bee’s nest. You gave him a house no wife would ever want to live in.”
One of the candidates for chief withdrew from consideration earlier this year. Captain Peter Chabot has served as the interim chief since June, and Chip Anderson will take over as interim chief beginning Aug. 15.
“I don’t think we need a town council or town manager,” Willis said. “We need a police department.”
Monica Hull-Shea, 78, called the poor behavior on the island is “appalling” and shouted at council members for not addressing issues with Ballard’s after the Fourth of July.Town Solicitor Attorney Nick Solitro interjected that there is still no action to report and that it would be unwise for the council to comment.
Several speakers said they have witnessed underage drinking in town, and admitted to hopping a fence to get into Ballard’s themselves. On Monday night during the music festival, some said, the area was overcrowded.
“It looked like the perfect setting for something bad to happen,” said Monica Rales. “We left shortly after because it was not a pleasant experience for us.”
Resident Christopher Blane said that if Ballard’s holds large-scale events it should be responsible for hiring its own boat charters to accommodate the high volume of guests, rather than flooding the Block Island Ferry service with passengers.
Steven Brunelle, a vacationer on Block Island since about 1993, was one of the only people to speak in support of Ballard’s and received a chorus of boos during his comments.
He said the problem with overcrowding extends across the island and is a problem shared by all of the town’s businesses.
“It’s everywhere, we have a lot of problems,” said Brunelle. “Ballard’s is not the demon that you making them out to be. Ballard’s draws in a large crowd for an event. He (Steven Filippi) asks if the police chief if he can hire extra officers. … He wants to pay for security. He’s being denied the security.”
Commenters 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 suggested that New Shoreham or the company that operates the Block Island Ferry, Interstate Navigation, limit the number of visitors to the island.
On Tuesday, Bruce Darelius of Pawtucket 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 Rhythm Festival Festival on Aug. 21.
The turmoil spilled over into the line for the Block Island Ferry, where hundreds of people waited to return to mainland Rhode Island. Additional, unscheduled ferries were used to handle the large crowds.
According to State Police, the fight on the ferry began at approximately 9:35 p.m. State troopers and officers from the Narragansett, North Kingstown, and South Kingstown police departments responded to a report of a disturbance on the Block Island Ferry as it was returning to the Port of Galilee.
Emergency services and law enforcement boarded the ferry, secured the vessel, and arrested the individuals involved.
The Rhode Island State Police said Tuesday that seven people have been arraigned in connection with the fight. Michael Carvalho, 26, of Providence; Abdou Njie, 37, of Pawtucket; Trent Manning, 32, of Providence; Deavon Silva, 20, of Pawtucket; and Miguel G. Silva, 36, of Providence all were charged with disorderly conduct. Laurie R. Cassandra, 30, of Providence, was charged with obstructing an officer in the execution of duty. Chevron R. Towns, 20, of Providence, was charged with weapons other than firearms prohibited. Jacob Dorbor, 30, of Providence, was arrested earlier Monday at Ballard’s and charged with disorderly conduct.
The suspects were transported to the Wickford Barracks where they were arraigned in front of a justice of the peace, and released with pending Fourth District Court dates, State Police said in the statement.
On Thursday, the Town Council asked those who “want to be part of the solution” to email videos, photos, and statements to deputy town clerk Millie McGinnes. Submissions may be used to select witnesses who the town’s attorney may present to the liquor licensing board.
Carlos Muñoz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ReadCarlos and on Instagram @Carlosbrknews. Alexa Gagosz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.