Bath council to tackle mass gathering rule

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BATH — The City Council will hold a workshop Wednesday, Feb. 17, to discuss creation of a mass gathering ordinance.

The draft rule, intended to permit safe mass gatherings while protecting public health and safety, will be reviewed in the second-floor conference room at City Hall at 6 p.m.

If it moves forward, the ordinance will need votes at two subsequent council meetings to be enacted.

A BikeMaine gathering that occurred in Bath in September 2014 – a “great event” that drew hundreds of bicyclists on their way across the state, City Manager Bill Giroux said in an interview Feb. 4 – was a major trigger behind the ordinance discussion.

“It’s important to know the event went very well,” City Parks and Recreation Director Steve Balboni said in an email Monday. “It just identified areas that we as a city could improve on in the process of hosting such events.”

“They were calling ahead and saying, ‘what do we need to do'” to hold the gathering, Giroux said. “‘What are the rules and everything?’ And we didn’t really have anything good.”

The city realized it needed a set of rules to guide it in permitting such an event, and also to provide guidelines to those who want to hold a mass gathering, the manager said.

City Solicitor Roger Therriault, in a Feb. 2 memorandum to city staff, defined a mass gathering as having at least 50 people, but noted that school and governmental agency events, and the city’s annual Heritage Days parade, would be exclusions, along with large groups meeting on private property.

Applications would have to be submitted to the police chief at least one week before the event. A set of standards would have to be met, including access traffic control, water supply and sanitation facilities, and refuse disposal. Restrictions would apply on time of the event and sound levels, and licenses would be required for food or alcoholic beverages.

The event operator would also have to provide liability insurance, identifying the city as an additional insured party, and would be liable for costs the city incurs for the gathering.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.