Hudson – “This is not what Hudson should be about” was a common refrain from approximately 50 town residents who attended a public hearing during the April 11 Board of Selectmen meeting. The residents were com- menting in response to a request from the Elks Lodge to obtain a three-day beer and wine pouring license for a proposed rodeo event to be held May 27 to 29 at the Elks” 99 Park St. property.
Several neighbors spoke passionately of their respect for the Elks and the charitable events the group sponsors while also speaking emphatically of their opposition to the rodeo. The residents were opposed to the event, they said, based on circumstances that transpired at two Elks-sponsored events held in the summer of 2010. Residents complained that a rodeo held Memorial Day featured loud cars and louder sound systems, rattled houses and disrupted life for nearby residents over the long holiday weekend. One resident, Patricia Simons, of 9 Riverview Street, said the noise got so bad she had to leave her home.
Chris Yates, of 49 Brigham St., said helicopters were taking off and landing every half hour for two days near his back yard. Several residents spoke of having an intense feeling of insecurity due to the uncontrolled vehicle and foot traffic, parking issues, drunk driving, public intoxication, lewd behavior, and strangers trespassing on their property. Others said they would not let their children outside. Residents further questioned the family friendliness of an event that gained $81,000 in alcohol sales and questioned if that was a proper source of funds for scholarships.
Representatives from the Elks apologized not just for last summer's rodeo, but also for an auto event that had taken place two weeks prior to that event. The representatives said they were misled about the nature of the auto show, which they said turned out to be instead an “auto boom-box event.”
The 2010 rodeo was the first time the event was held, and it was planned in a scant three weeks, the representatives said. The event this year was planned over a one-year period and problems with parking were being addressed, they said, with a plan to shuttle rodeo participants from the Solomon Pond Mall to the event. The helicopters were replaced with a balloon ride, and more family-friendly attractions were booked, they added.
After 45 minutes of intense public comment, Selectmen Antonio Loura and Joseph Durant, who are also Elks members, joined Selectmen Santino Parente, Charles McGourty, and James Vereault in denying the application for the license.
“I think this event is too big for that particular location,” Loura said.
In other business, the board also expressed differences on how to deal with an ongoing citizen's issue. McGourty requested that Police Chief Richard Braga appear to answer questions regarding the particular issue.
“This is like watching a tennis match,” Vereault said in regard to the communication between the citizen and the town. “A letter comes, a letter goes.”
“We are intervening in places we shouldn's be,” Durant said. “There has been a thorough investigation and I find the comments of the writer disrespectful and offensive.”
Durant went on to remind the board that it has not intervened in an investigation of a noncriminal matter in 30 years.
“The way to settle this is to stand up and support the chief,” Durant said.
“This man is dragging the chief's name through the mud,” McGourty added.
The board voted, 3-1, to deny the measure to have the chief appear before the selectmen to discuss the issue.