Club Castaway in Whately required to keep police detail through Feb. 4

Club Castaway, located at 226 State Road in Whately, reopened on Oct. 4.

Club Castaway, located at 226 State Road in Whately, reopened on Oct. 4. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 11-22-2023 10:04 AM

WHATELY — Weekend police details will continue to be required at Club Castaway at least through Feb. 4, as the town and business continue to build a relationship.

When the strip club’s current owners took over in 2019, the Selectboard at that time granted a variance to the alcohol and adult entertainment license and required a police detail on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. over a four-month “probationary period.” However, the club, located at 226 State Road, closed in 2020 with about six weeks left in that period and remained shuttered throughout the pandemic.

Ahead of Club Castaway’s Oct. 4 reopening, the Selectboard voted to keep the requirements in effect for the remaining 45-day period with the intention of meeting with the owners to discuss next moves and talk about how business operations have been.

“Things have been going really smooth, actually, and it’s been good to get open after being closed for a few years. We haven’t had any issues that I think would be a major concern for the town or public safety,” co-owner Nick Spagnola informed the Selectboard on Tuesday. “We do have every intention of maintaining a police detail; I would just ask that it not be mandated by the Selectboard.”

He added that the request to remove the police detail requirement is “asking the Selectboard to put some faith in us to keep making the right decisions.”

Fellow co-owner Julius Sokol added that the police detail is an important tool to maintain safety for patrons and employees, but it would be nice to not have it mandated on a night when they know they won’t be busy, such as during a snowstorm.

Police Chief James Sevigne Jr. agreed with Spagnola’s assessment and said there hasn’t been a single police report in the month the club has been open. He also noted that while it’s a good thing right now for his department to work these police details, in the distant future it may prove problematic as his staff size decreases and night shifts are not able to be picked up by local officers.

“I think something would have to drastically change for me to say, ‘Yes, they would require a police detail,’” Sevigne said, adding that Spagnola has been going “above and beyond” what is required of him. “I see Nick putting the effort into making it an establishment that runs smoothly.”

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The Selectboard, while appreciative of Sevigne’s feedback, leaned toward extending the probationary period to four consecutive months because the current one has been broken up by a global pandemic and Joyce Palmer-Fortune was the only Selectboard member serving when the club opened under its current ownership in 2019.

“Let’s build trust both ways,” said board member Julianna Waggoner. “I wouldn’t mind extending the probationary period as a get-to-know-you kind of thing.”

Beginning at the club’s reopening date, Selectboard Chair Fred Baron said the board could “reset the clock to October” on the probation period, which would line up with a Feb. 4 expiration date and would bring Spagnola and Sokol back to the board sometime in late January.

“I think that’s a reasonable compromise,” Baron said, with Spagnola and Sokol agreeing.