By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Members of the 2018 Applefest Celebration Committee were on hand at the Board of Selectmen’s May 14 meeting when the board had a lengthy discussion on the planned schedule for the upcoming fall celebration.
In an effort to plan ahead for the event, Town Administrator John Coderre reviewed the decision made for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2016, when the number Applefest activities increased and necessitated moving the parade to Sunday of that weekend. The idea was that move would be for that year only but the schedule continued to the next year.
The concerns that arose were that town staff, including fire, police and the Department of Public Works (DPW), were overtaxed and, an agreement that was made last year that the Applefest Committee wouldn’t move forward until all the stakeholders had a discussion was not upheld.
Police Chief William E. Lyver Jr., Fire Chief David L. Parenti and DPW Director, Scott Charpentier, all said that they would do as the board requested, but that the two-day format would be a strain on their departments.
“Logistically, as staff, we really need to know as far in advance as we possibly can what the schedule is going to be,” stated Coderre, who added that, based on the fireworks and parade, the festival required all personnel’s hands on deck.
Selectmen Chair Dawn Rand stated that the Northborough Rotary Club and the Inter-Faith Council shared their concerns over having events on both days through letters sent to the Board. The Rotary’s concern was securing crafters for the craft fair if held Sunday and the Inter-Faith Council, particularly St. Rose of Lima, had concerns about the parade’s effect on church service attendance.
Michelle Gillespie, representing the Applefest Committee, disputed the letters, stating that they never received any letters detailing said concerns.
She was supported by fellow committee member, Laura Ziton, who read several letters (with similar reasoning) from various community groups supporting the two-day format. The Applefest Committee’s thinking is by spreading out the events, people can maximize their participation without conflicts.
Gillespie shared that the business community was pleased with having the parade on Sunday because it didn’t affect their ability to conduct business.
Selectman Leslie Rutan said, “This is what makes it difficult to be on this board, because you see things from a resident’s point of view and yet you’ve got to make a decision that is in the best interest of the various parties here.”
When asked about outsourcing certain responsibilities, officials noted that, because of liabilities and public safety concerns, it is not feasible.
After more deliberation, the board ultimately agreed to hold the upcoming Applefest as scheduled, but with the provision that all primary stakeholders return in October for a thorough and thoughtful discussion.