Newport This Week

Town Council Approves Liquor License for Island Cinema

The Middletown Town Council has approved a beer and wine license for Island Cinema, despite the cap on such licenses already being at its limit of 40.

Island Cinema had come before the Planning Board in December to initiate the request for a license, which was then shifted over to the Town Council, acting as a licensure board, on Feb. 6. The application for actual alcohol service at the movie theater still requires advertising for a future public hearing and notification to abutters.

Although the cap on beer-andwine licenses had been 40, the council has the right to exceed it, which was done once before. The idea prompted some amusing questions.

“What is the purpose of having a cap if we continue to exceed that cap?” asked council Chair Paul Rodrigues. “Maybe we need to raise the cap or lower it.”

That existential question was not answered. Of immediate concern were underage servers and moviegoers.

“There are a lot of kids going in there, so have they had the proper training?” asked Vice Chair Tom Welch.

Town clerk Wendy Marshall assured the council that the cinema had to follow strict service rules.

“This is happening all over,” added Peter Connerton, of the national trend of theaters serving beer and wine. “Some are even serving full meals.”

In other matters:

n Councilor Dennis Turano submitted a memo to discuss improvements at Dunlap-Wheeler Park.

“It is one of the most underused parks in [Middletown],” he said. “I’d like to get an engineer and the council to look at it. It needs some improvements. It’s undermaintained. I’m afraid if we get another large storm, we could lose this park.”

He added that the park was not well secured with natural boundaries from the ocean. “We should put some rocks there to protect the shoreline,” he said.

He called it a safety issue against recent stormwater surges and cited money in the town’s Capital Improvement Program to fund repairs.

Rodrigues said there was a plan in place in 2003 that “looked very nice on the surface,” but “it never really evolved because of the soil and sand there.”

“It was hard to get what they proposed to grow. And how do you connect that park to the beach?” he said.

Rodrigues said he did not think the park “will wash away tomorrow,” but could be improved through grant money.

Town administrator Shawn Brown said his staff can apply for shoring-up grants, “but it could cost millions to shore up that front wall,” and that it was “complicated to try to build something permanent.”

Another complication is that CRMC oversees the public rightof way to the ocean. The matter was forwarded to the town’s Open Space and Fields Committee.

*Will Cronin, Operations & Facility manager and recycling coordinator, recommended that the town hold the annual campground fees next season to $8,800, but increase other fees, such as beach parking, in accordance to the consumer price index.

Campground fees increased from $3,000 in 2017 to $5,800 in 2018 to $8,800 in 2021.

n The council unanimously approved the application for a special event permit for Audrain Automobile Museum for the Bonhams & Butterfields Veteran Car Auction, on April 29, at 250 West Main Road, along with seven special event permits for the museum for the Cars and Coffee at Second Beach, on April 16, April 23, May 21, Oct. 15, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, and Nov. 12, from 8 to 10 a.m.

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