The first-ever “Last Night Rappahannock” will go on as scheduled on Gay Street on Dec. 31, but without the glow of a fire.
The New Year’s Eve event, sponsored by the Rappahannock Historical Society, is set for 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31. For a fee of $25 per family or $10 for individuals, participants can enjoy activities at the Washington Town Hall, RAAC Community Theatre and Trinity Church Parish Hall, with the historical society’s Gay Street building as “headquarters.”
The historical society had requested permission from town council to close Gay Street for three blocks from Calvert Street to Mt. Salem Avenue from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. for the New Year’s Eve event, which would encompass all but the church venue, which is just across Mt. Salem Avenue.
That concerned Kevin Adams, co-owner of the Gay Street Inn, who was in the audience at town hall when the matter came up before the council on Monday.
“I’m concerned one of the town’s major streets will be closed. My business will have a full house” on New Year’s Eve, Adams told council members.
He said a majority of his lodgers would take Warren Street to Gay Street to get to his inn and would be arriving around the time the road would be closed. He said anyone using a GPS navigator would be directed to the inn via Warren Street rather than Mt. Salem Avenue or Main Street, which came up during the discussion Monday as other access alternatives.
“No one approached me or my partner about this. There could have been a conversation about it,” Adams said.
John and Judy Tole, the latter being executive director of the historical society, told council the road closure was to ensure the safety of those who came to the Last Night activities. The “fire pit” would go on the street rather than on the ground nearer to buildings.
Judy Tole said the road closure area would be marked off with traffic cones and that there would be warning signs She said the historical society obtained the approval of the county sheriff.
She said participants will park “where they can find it.” She said she would have to talk to the volunteer fire department about the availability of parking there. She estimated that 50 to 75 people might attend the event.
Discussion turned to other sites for the fire rather than in the street. Council member Patrick O’Connell wondered if the outdoor fireplace behind Stonyman Gourmet could be made available.
John Tole said the society could look into that possibility.
But after a few more minutes of discussion the Toles told council they would withdraw the application for permission to close the road. The event, they said, would go on without a road closure and without a fire.
The historical society’s Web site at www.rappahannockhistsoc.org says that reservations to attend the event should be made by Dec. 27. The society can be reached by calling 675-1163 or sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCLC subdivision granted
In other business, council approved a subdivision request from the Child Care and Learning Center to subdivide its property after holding a public hearing that drew no objections. A half-acre portion of the property is being split off in the event the center needs to sell the land to raise funds for the non-profit, explained CCLC Executive Director Rose Ann Smythe. She said the property being split off is zoned residential.
A new driveway off Mt. Salem Avenue will be built to access the property. Connecting to the town sewage system and payment of any fees and connection work will have to be made before a building permit is issued.
Council approved the property subdivision unanimously. Council member Alice Butler and Mayor John Fox Sullivan were absent.
The next regularly scheduled town council meeting is Jan. 10.