With taxes unpaid, Whately Selectboard reinstates Club Castaway police detail requirements

Club Castaway at 226 State Road in Whately.

Club Castaway at 226 State Road in Whately. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-27-2024 11:39 AM

Modified: 06-27-2024 12:26 PM


WHATELY — With taxes unpaid as of Tuesday evening, the Selectboard has opted to reinstate the police detail requirement at Club Castaway for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The decision at Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting came after the club’s owners did not show up to the continuation of a variance hearing that would have scaled back the club’s police detail requirements to just Friday and Saturday nights.

At the June 10 meeting, it was revealed the club owed about $3,000 for police details and about $2,200 in delinquent tax payments, which resulted in the Selectboard requiring those bills to be paid ahead of this week’s meeting. Treasurer/Collector Amy Schrader said the club owes $1,118 each for the third and fourth quarter tax periods, which were due Feb. 1 and May 1, respectively.

“I don’t see any reason to be accommodating,” Selectboard member Joyce Palmer-Fortune said Tuesday, emphasizing that Club Castaway has a “track record of pushing on” the conditions set on the liquor and entertainment license. The club was briefly shuttered in early 2020 for a condition violation, as a stone wall that was designed to act as a noise buffer was never built.

“I think we made it clear last time, you need to pay your taxes,” Palmer-Fortune added. “I’m not in favor of loosening the conditions under the current circumstances.”

Club co-owner Nick Spagnola said Wednesday morning that the club is addressing the payments this week.

“We realized that we are unable to receive mail at our mailbox at our property and must install a new mailbox across the road. We are addressing the issue this week,” Spagnola said. “Club Castaway does not intend to adversely affect the financial planning of the town of Whately.”

He said the police detail payments are from the winter, when business was much slower compared to now.

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“As for police invoices, the issue arose due to quieter operational months in January and February. The town is aware that payments are being made in full this week,” Spagnola added. “It is important to note that police details are typically compensated on a nightly basis, a practice that has been consistent for several months.”

While the Selectboard opted to require the police details for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Police Chief James Sevigne Jr. reiterated his opinion that there doesn’t need to be a police detail requirement at all.

“If we’re going to continue doing Thursday, Friday, Saturday, that’s going to be a hardship for the Police Department. … I don’t feel that we necessarily need to be there,” Sevigne said, noting it’s hard enough to fill shifts, let alone details on weekend nights, and he can’t call in outside departments to help. “To mandate for something that’s not going to be paid for anyways, that’s going to hurt the town.”

The Selectboard will continue to communicate with the Police Department about the matter, but in the meantime, Club Castaway is free to continue to operate with police details on the weekend.

“We are committed to showcasing the best of erotic entertainment and are excited to announce an expansion of our operating hours to Monday through Saturday,” Spagnola said. “Additionally, we are broadening our entertainment offerings to include more inclusive events, aiming to cater to a diverse range of preferences for our western Massachusetts patrons.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.