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On Block Island, Ballard’s Beach Resort and town council agree to new round of restrictions

In the agreement, Ballard’s Beach Resort will not be allowed to host music festivals, will have to pay for police details, and recently hired the former police chief of Dartmouth, Mass. as its new head of security

New Shoreham Police look over a fake identification outside of Ballard's Beach Resort, a popular bar destination for day trippers located near the ferry docks on Block Island, R.I., on Aug. 27, 2022.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. — Ballard’s Beach Resort is facing a new round of restrictions nearly five months before the Block Island property reopens for its summer season.

The town of New Shoreham imposed new conditions on Ballard’s liquor and entertainment licenses, including requiring more police presence at the resort and a ban on all music festivals. The New Shoreham town council, which also acts as the board of license commissioners on the island, voted unanimously to adopt the agreement, which was negotiated and “agreed to” by Ballard’s, according to town clerk Millie McGinnes.

Ballard’s owner Steven Filippi released a statement to the Globe through his spokeswoman Kimberly Poland, stating he appreciated the town council’s efforts in “resolving the parties’ pending matter” and “looks forward to a positive working relationship going forward.”

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Filippi had been running unopposed for a seat on the town council, but lost the election after several alternative candidates launched write-in campaigns.

Ballard’s Beach Resort, long owned by members of the Filippi family, made national news this past summer for hosting a crowded music festival that led to brawls and arrests at the venue and on the Block Island Ferry. As part of this new agreement, which was obtained by the Globe, Filippi will dismiss the appeals pending against the actions on Ballard’s liquor and entertainment licenses before the Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.

Steve Filippi (left), owner of Ballard's Beach Resort, sits with one of his attorney's inside town hall before the start of a town council show-cause hearing for the resort in New Shoreham, Rhode Island.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

The agreement also requires that Ballard’s hire two police details to be stationed at the resort on weekends and holidays throughout the summer, as well as a minimum number of trained security guards and a security supervisor for each shift.

Retired Dartmouth, Mass. police chief and former Providence police captain Timothy Lee, Ballard’s new director of security, will “prepare and implement improved security policies and procedures with input from the New Shoreham police chief.” “Regular” communication between Ballard’s security and the New Shoreham chief of police will be required, according to the agreement.

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Vincent Carlone, who served as New Shoreham’s police chief in the early 2000s, was the head of security at Ballard’s this past summer. In the agreement with the town, Ballard’s “will not retain in any position its former Director of Security who held such a position as of August 7, 2022.” Poland, Filippi’s spokesperson, declined to comment to the Globe on the matter on Thursday.

People walk by boats docked adjacent to Ballard's Beach Resort on Block Island.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

While Ballard’s will not be allowed to host music festivals, it will be permitted to have one band playing outdoors at a time, but will not be allowed to host more than two outdoor bands in a single day. The State Fire Marshall will have to inspect the property and determine appropriate capacity levels, according to the agreement with the town.

The resort will have to post prominent signage stating that possession of open containers of alcohol in public is a crime. They will also have to manage lines of patrons forming at Ballard’s entrance so they do not interfere with the Harbormaster building and the town dock.

Second Warden Sven Risom said these new conditions on Ballard’s comes after an “ongoing series” of meetings with the island’s liquor license holders. Town manager Maryanne Crawford said the action taken by the town to approve these new permit conditions is just part of the town’s commitment to enforcement.

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“There is a renewed seriousness of purpose throughout the community around using all our tools, including law enforcement, to keep islanders and visitors safe and healthy, and to better manage peak visitor days during the season,” said Crawford.

Unlike in the past, the new agreement states that the license actions taken by the town remain part of the official record for purposes of any potential future enforcement action.

On Aug. 7, multiple fights broke out during a reggae festival at Ballard’s and police said the free event drew larger-than-average crowds. Patrons hopped the fences to avoid standing in line. But the festival was the final straw for many of the island’s year-round residents and long-time vacationers after a tumultuous summer at Ballard’s that included underage drinking and an alleged sexual assault, which the Rhode Island State Police and the Attorney General’s Office began investigating in July. The alleged victim, who was reportedly under age, declined to file a police report or press charges at the time. The incident is still being investigated by the attorney general’s office.

On Aug. 22, the town council held a six-hour long show cause hearing where testimony, cross examination, and video footage led to the New Shoreham Board of License Commissioners (which is made up of all the Block Island Town Council members), which voted to take action against the resort’s licenses. Ballard’s appealed to the state the following day and was able to serve alcohol again on Aug. 24 at 5 p.m.

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On Sept. 27, the Coastal Resources Management Council issued a notice of violation that said the resort illegally built “unauthorized” temporary structures such as a tiki bar, a stage, canopies, fencing, and a pergola. Each structure was ordered to be deconstructed by Nov. 9.

“While CRMC’s Notice of Violation against Ballard’s is not part of these conditions,” said town councilors Mark Emmanuelle and Martha Ball in a statement of New Shoreham’s new agreement with the resort, “we applaud the agency for its commitment to ensuring the state laws regarding structures and activities in the delicate coastal zone are actively enforced.”





Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.