If Morristown wants a new revenue source, it should consider charging admission to council meetings.
Because starting on April 2, they are likely to become pretty lively.
The Tashmoo Restaurant & Bar is scheduled to appear before the council at 7 pm with a request to extend its liquor license to an adjoining two-story eating and drinking establishment that owner Dave Walsh wants to erect on DeHart Street. Expect supporters of the plan to testify.
Residents who fought hard last summer to convince the council to nix a bowling alley/bar proposed for the same spot by Dave’s brother also plan to return in force to register their opposition.
In a preview of what’s to come, Donna Gaffney, who bought a condo with her husband at 40 Park Place in April 2012, laid out her concerns in a letter to the town.
“We were attracted to the vitality, culture and diversity of this community. We frequent the restaurants and retail shops, and take every opportunity to buy local,” Donna wrote. But the “excessive” number of downtown bars are negating the town’s beauty and historic charm, she said.
“For those people who say to the residents of our urban community in Morristown, ‘Didn’t you know what you were getting when you moved to a city?’ the answer is, “of course, we did.” The city noises of sirens, cars, motorcycles were all within our expectations. What we have found here is well beyond anything that we have ever experienced (or our adult children who have lived in Manhattan).”
Dave Walsh declined our interview requests last week. At town hall on Monday, he said he would wait until the council meeting to comment.
He told the Daily Record that the Tashmoo expansion would increase his seating capacity from 70 people to about 300, and would bring another 30- to 50 jobs to town. His chef, Eric Sellin, ran the French restaurant Mariques in Mendham until 2005, according to the article.
Eric told the newspaper he envisions a seafood- and steak restaurant, and that liquor is an essential component for a successful restaurant of that size. Bars are proposed for both floors, along with a retractable roof.
Addressing residents’ noise concerns, the chef told the paper:
“People have every right to be concerned, especially immediate neighbors,” said Sellin. “But we’re installing a sound proof roof, and we’re not the kind of establishment that will act like a night club.”
Dave Walsh told the paper that Tashmoo has outgrown its space; Donna Gaffney says the bar scene that has outgrown the neighborhood.
By her count, the Tashmoo expansion would bring Morristown’s total number of bar patrons to 3,000 per night.
After midnight on Thursdays through Sundays, she said, residents regularly are subjected to ” sirens, screams, arguments, hostile exchanges, fights and even people engaging in “intimate behavior” in public places.”
The noise coming emanating from South Street bars on summer evenings “can only be likened to a crowd at a football game,” Donna’s letter contends.
Five times, she said, she has been bumped by drunken bar patrons while trying to walk her dog–which became sick from eating food discarded on a sidewalk. She described sidewalks near the Wells Fargo building and on South Park Place as “absolutely disgusting,” and said “vomit, condoms, sputum, wads of gum [and] cigarette butts” are endemic throughout the historic district.
Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman, whose First Ward includes Tashmoo, said she wanted to hear all sides.
“I have an open mind,” she said. “I look forward to evaluating this application objectively and impartially, as I have in the past.”