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WCA gets greenlight for booze

Whallonsburgh Civic Association President Andy Buchanan asked the Essex Town Board to pass a resolution allowing the sale of alcohol at the Whallonsburgh Grange on Thursday, June 26. It passed unanimously.

Whallonsburgh Civic Association President Andy Buchanan asked the Essex Town Board to pass a resolution allowing the sale of alcohol at the Whallonsburgh Grange on Thursday, June 26. It passed unanimously. Photo by Pete DeMola.

ESSEX — The Whallonsburgh Grange will now serve alcohol after the Essex Town Board gave them their blessings on Thursday, June 26.

But here’s the catch: It’s public property. The town owns the venerable old structure. But the Whallonsburg Civic Association (WCA), the non-profit organization that manages the facility, has been working to reverse the ban for the past two years after the town cracked down prior to a bash catered by Elizabethtown’s Cobble Hill Inn.

‘FOR THE COMMUNITY’

“The whole purpose of the Grange is that it’s for the community,” said WCA President Andy Buchanan in a pitch to three members of the town board and the public at Thursday’s meeting. “We want to provide a decent, clean, well-appointed and affordable venue.”

Buchanan said he hoped the proposed policy that would govern the use of alcohol, a measure designed to attract wedding receptions and other large celebrations that have the potential to generate revenue, would be amenable to all.

The conditions? No money will change hands between the public and WCA, he said. Beer and wine only. No hard liquor.

For private parties, groups will be required to hire a professional bartender or caterer from a list of four approved vendors who will be required to show their license and proof of insurance to the WCA.

Buchanan told board members the new proposal addressed the concerns they raised the last time the issue was presented, including outdoor drinking and signage on the premises.

All alcohol will be required to stay within the building. The staff, he said, will be instructed to monitor patrons to ensure they don’t drift into the parking lot.

“We’re not saying bring your own alcohol and distribute it to whoever you want,” Buchanan told the board. “I think it’s a watertight policy. The longer-term vision is to make the Grange more economically self-sufficient.”

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