On Thursday, Oct. 24, the East Greenwich Town Council will be continuing to decide the fate & longevity of our thriving waterfront. As lifelong residents of East Greenwich my wife Carole and I have been the owners of Finn’s Harborside for the past 7 years, originally known as the Harborside Lobstermania.
As a business owner of an East Greenwich waterfront destination and resident of the town I am extremely disappointed in the manner of which our elected town officials have handled the complaints of a few people residing in close proximity to the waterfront. The town officials are being manipulated and are now attempting to dictate how we as restaurant owners should conduct businesses. Over the past several years our waterfront destinations have breathed life and energy into what has been typically a somewhat run down part of the town.
East Greenwich has a vibrant waterfront and as in many coastal areas in the North East there is a limited time (exactly 12 weeks) to generate revenue and enjoy outside leisure time on the water. This is now in jeopardy! Bands have been playing at all three waterfront locations for 30-plus years and have been the mainstay of attracting patrons to EG. All of these restaurants cater to families, young & old, and also many tourists and patrons from all parts of Rhode Island and beyond. Along with all of this comes traffic, noise (which should be pointed out to some of the complainers is completely different than music), trash, unruly behavior, loud voices etc. The restaurants have paid for trash to be picked up and for additional police details. It is a fact that where there is commerce and traffic there will be noise. The restaurants in question bring in revenue to the town and contribute to making East Greenwich a destination. As a taxpayer here in town it seems to me that losing this asset is not good fiscal management.
As a restaurant owner we have spent thousands of dollars on sound minimizing equipment and security details at all events to ensure we have stayed within the current decibel level. We are routinely metered by the EGPD but also by over zealous neighbors who report their meter readings to the town! On occasion the decibel level has gone over the town ordinance with no music playing. Just the ambient decibel level of patrons at the outside bar will be over the proposed ordinance! It has been insinuated by some of the neighbors complaining that the current restaurants with the music are not generating enough income to consider keeping the current noise ordinance! We are faced with fines for violating the decibel level which contrary to the belief of the people complaining are NOT figured into our operating expenses.
Quite simply if the town sound ordinance is lowered we could possibly lose one third to one half of our business since the most popular bands will not be able to play. There needs to be a compromise to this issue that is acceptable to both residents & businesses alike. Lowering the decibel level to approximately the level of normal conversation is not a compromise. The Town Council special meeting will be held on Thursday October 24 (7 p.m.) at the Swift Community Center.
Mark G. Finn
Owner, Finn’s Harborside