After the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s decision to grant permission for the development of Futbolandia, a restaurant and bar at 4 Early St., the group heard concerns from business owners and residents about Gracie Sunshine, a proposed restaurant, bar and bowling alley rolled into one at 10 DeHart St.
The Walsh family, who also own Futbolandia and a number of other establishments in town, are looking to transfer an already-existing liquor license to the property, where they would either transfer the historic home that currently resides there or, as a last resort, demolish it.
According to Christopher Knoll, co-owner of the proposed destination, there would be two floors to the complex, each one featuring restaurant tables, a bar and six bowling lanes apiece. Knoll also mentioned that roof access would be permitted, on a seasonal basis, to patrons ages 25 and up, who would also have the opportunity to enjoy bar facilities on the proposed building’s rooftop.
The proposed project has been met with concerns from the and residents.
Councilwoman Alison Deeb was concerned with traffic, amid the recent opening of on South Street and the increased traffic from that location. Deeb, citing a report from the Morristown Parking Authority, is concerned traffic and parking in nearby garages will only become more of an issue in an already-crowded downtown.
“Iron Bar opened with capacity of 800 (patrons) proposed. The point is that the DeHart garage, across the street from the proposed application, cannot accommodate both,” Deeb said.
Traffic was not the only concern among residents, many of whom feel the quality of life is declining in Morristown with each new establishment that serves alcohol.
Kathleen Hyland, who owns just two doors down from the proposed site at 10 DeHart St., feels an alcohol-serving establishment is the last thing the already-cluttered street needs.
“The people that invested their life savings to put up with what we have to put up with just during the day at business people, it’s a crime,” Hyland said. “I don’t think there’s a soul here that wouldn’t like to see a bowling alley, but I don’t think that’s the main objective here. I think it’s a bar, and it’s another bar.”
With that comes trash, noise disturbances and even public urination, something which William Walsh and the rest of his family pledged on Wednesday night to reduce, and even prevent, wherever possible.
“We do our best to clean up. We cannot control the public in Morristown,” Walsh said. “We will add extra staffing at nighttime to make sure our area and the surrounding area is clean of bottles, cigarettes and extra trash.”
Walsh did point out, however, that preventing trash and general chaos from littering the streets on weekends is going to be a collaborative effort with all of the other bars in town, whether or not the new DeHart Street destination ever opens its doors.
“I think we need the bars in this town to come together and pay for the security in this area and the groups to come through and clean this area, because you residents don’t deserve what you’re getting in your yard,” Walsh said. “It is the bars as a whole coming up with this problem, so it should be the bars as a whole coming up with a way to fix it.”
For some residents, however, pledging to keep things under control is not enough of a measure to take. Many would like to see the application stopped in its tracks before a greater problem ever begins.
“Morristown has become or is very close to being a drinking destination. It’s only going to get worse with the addition of a bar,” resident Patricia Rosenkilde said. “There must be some balance. We’re losing balance. If it’s already gone, I don’t know, but we’re on the road to losing balance in our town.”
Added 40 Park resident Marie Rozan, “We expect Morristown to grow and propser, but it has to be a livable city. If Morristown is not a livable city, it will not grow and prosper.”
No decision was made on the application. A public hearing is expected to continue on Wednesday, July 18. The meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., will take place at Town Hall.