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Strawberry Supper Will Take Place, Despite Town Hall Code Issues

July 5, 2014

in Archive,Entertainment,News,Plymouth

Strawberry Supper
The annual strawberry supper for the North Pomfret Congregational Church will be held on Saturday, July 5 at the Town Hall in Pomfret. Seatings are at 5, 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. For reservations call 457-1014. Plus the Pomfret Ladies Circle annual craft and bake sale will start at 3 p.m.


By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
POMFRET — Last month, the location of the annual Strawberry Supper was in question after the Selectboard learned the Town Hall wasn’t up to fire safety code, but supper organizers are anticipating that it will take place in the same location as always this year.

The Strawberry Supper, which is hosted by the North Pomfret Congregational Church, will have three seatings — at 5, 6:15 and 7 p.m. — on July 5 with Constable Jonathan Fredholm in attendance at the Town Hall event for safety reasons.

A fire marshal determined last month that to be up to code, the Town Hall’s main exit should open outward if there are more than 50 people in the building. It also needs an additional exit, emergency lighting that illuminates all the exit paths and a new ramp at the front doorway to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fire Marshal Bruce Martin, who inspected the building, gave the town 30 days (until July 16) to come up with a plan.

“He was very clear on that,” said Selectboard chair Mark Warner at the meeting last Wednesday.

The building has a potential occupancy of about 200 people. The nationally recognized fire safety standards say there should be 15 square feet of space per person in a building if they are sitting at a table and seven square feet if they are standing, potentially impacting all events taking place in the 1,200 square foot building, including Town Meeting and town and schoolrelated events. The Selectboard is working with an architectural specialist who reviews historic buildings.

“As long as we’ve got something in motion, he is going to be happy,” Warner said.

As of Tuesday, the town hadn’t come up with a concrete plan with the fire marshal who said he didn’t know if the number of people in the building would be limited.

“Unless there’s some imminent hazard to peoples’ lives for safety, we can usually come up with a combination of things that addresses those deficiencies until a more permanent fix comes in,” Martin said.

The state can issue fines ranging from $100-$500 for technical violations, such as lighting, and up to $1,000 for serious violations. It can also take building owners to court for not complying, but “it’s pretty rare” fire marshals have to take those measures, Martin said.

“The whole idea all along has been to accommodate the use of the building while developing long-term solutions,” he said.

The Selectboard also passed a personnel policy Wednesday night, which includes an annual review of the town’s three road crew employees, and an employee termination process. Selectboard member Phil Dechert based the policies off documents in other towns. The last time the town updated it’s personnel policy was in 1999.

The Selectboard meets again July 2 at 7 p.m.


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