Final town meeting drowns Tubestock

by Kelsey Blodget | 7/11/06 5:00am

A single student showed up to protest the town ordinances crushing Tubestock at a public meeting the Hanover Board of Selectmen held Tuesday to solicit community feedback. Organizer of the now defunct "Save Tubestock" movement Robert King '08 gave an embittered speech to the board but did not recruit additional student support, King said, because a stricter state law passed June 15 supercedes the town ordinances, making them irrelevant.

Town Manager Julia Griffin said the board held last night's meeting because "we were sympathetic of the fact that students weren't done with their break yet between terms" and wanted to give them a forum to comment.

The "open container town ordinance" makes open containers on bodies of water illegal while the "outdoor activities town ordinance" holds all participants in a non-permitted outdoor event accountable for penalties. The state law says that any person who participates in a non-permitted water event will be fined and will be guilty of a misdemeanor violation for failing to leave when instructed to by a law enforcement officer.

King said student reaction to the event's cancellation hasn't lived up to his expectations.

"I'm somewhat disappointed that there hasn't been more outrage," King said.

Griffin said she wasn't surprised no other students showed up. After meeting with a dozen students involved with Tubestock on three separate occasions, Griffin said she felt that "they got it."

"I met with the students. Robert was an outspoken participant," Griffin said. "But you notice he was the only one of all of the students who came to the last two public hearings. The other students to varying degrees got it, understood what our concerns were."

In his speech King called the town's ordinances illegal, saying the town failed to provide copies of the ordinances for public observation seven days prior their vote.

"We posted them online so I don't know what Robert's talking about," Griffin said in an interview with The Dartmouth following the meeting.

King said he did not feel the town had been willing enough to work with students.

"I'd like to take this [time] to again express my displeasure with the relationship the town has displayed toward students with this," he told the board during his speech, later telling The Dartmouth "they've been very dismissive of any student input whatsoever."

King also disagreed with the board's claim that Tubestock has been getting increasingly more dangerous.

"To say that the event has been getting less safe is a falsehood. Students have been working with the town to make the event safer," he said.

"There's safety and there's insurance company safety, which are very different levels," he added, which prompted a brief verbal sparring match with selectman Bill Baschnagel.

"No it's not. It's not a safe event," Baschnagel said.

The board asked if students had considered an alternative event for which a permit could be obtained.

"What about on land?" vice chair Kate Connolly asked, before answering to herself, "it's not as much fun."

King said in the interview following the meeting that he hopes Fieldstock will happen, but was dismissive of its potential as an equivalent event.

"Essentially what they're offering us is a barbecue on the BEMA. And I wish they were kidding," he said. King added he believes that since the College "took a surprisingly active role in bringing about [Tubestock's] demise with that public statement from James Larimore," it is the College's responsibility to replace the event.

"I feel that the College has some obligation to try and do something. And I hope Wright reads that," he said.

The drowning death of a Tuck Bridge student in the Connecticut River last summer prompted the board to take action.

"It simply brought home to us that the combination of alcohol with the Connecticut river is just not a good combination," Griffin said. "It has some tricky currents and a lot of underwater debris."

The debris from the former Ledyard Bridge also makes for dangerous diving conditions in the event when the state marine patrol has to search for a body, as they did last summer, Griffin said.

Complaints of trash left on the Norwich shore also placed a role in Hanover's crackdown on the event. Chair of the Norwich Board of Selectmen Alison May attended the meeting to thank the Hanover board for their efforts.

"The big events were Dartmouth carnival and Green Key weekends. Tubestock was not a tradition," May said of her years growing up near Dartmouth. "I rather suspect that there was very little rum being drunk at Tubestock. Eleazar [Wheelock] would probably not be happy."