Council approves August cigar festival

Thick August air and cigaretes smoke will turn downtown Keene into a giant humidor this summer, but just for one day. At the April 15 City Council meeting councilors voted 11-3 in favor of allowing a local business owner to hold a cigar tasting event on the sidewalk outside his Central Square store on Aug. 28.

Clark Anderson, owner of CC&H Framing and Cigars, requested use of the sidewalk and parking spaces adjacent to his shop for the 12-hour event at which customers can purchase and smoke cigars. Anderson said the only difference between this event and his previous events is the date.

Councilor Philip M. Jones called the event inconsiderate, given its effect on other non smokers in the area.

“Smoking a cigar is self-serving,” Jones said. “Who knows if there are people living there with asthma or breathing problems? It might prevent people from going into adjacent stores.”

Councilor Kris E. Roberts said he suffers from asthma but compared the event to passing by smokers outside other businesses.

“I can pass about 15 to 16 facilities and get blasted with smoke outside,” Roberts said. “So I won’t prevent this unless we do the same for everybody.”

Councilor Mitchell H. Greenwald said he saw no reason to prohibit the event. “This is a legally functioning downtown merchant whether you like it or not,” Greenwald said. “What’s next? Banning fried foods, barbecued meat and running air conditioners downtown?”

Councilors Jones and Janis O. Manwaring expressed concern that the event challenges Cheshire Medical Center’s Vision 2020, an initiative to make Cheshire County the nation’s healthiest community by the year 2020.

“It’s a stab in the back to the people who work for 2020,” Jones said.
After being sent back to the Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee in the April 1 meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve of a general fund appropriation for the Partner City Committee.

Councilor Charles H. Redfern, who previously opposed the request, said he now understands a visiting soccer team from Keene’s partner city, Einbeck, Germany, will have tangible benefits for both communities.

“Keene students and students from Germany will visit the Holocaust Center together,” he said. “I think that sends a certain message.”

The council unanimously approved a request from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center to hold a fundraising event on Main Street called “Bald is Beautiful.” The May 1 event will involve volunteers raising money to cut or shave participant’s hair, as well as collect contributions for the cancer center.

The council unanimously approved a request from The Piazza owner Don Carlisle to extend the use of his sidewalk café onto the property located in front of Domino’s Pizza.
Although several councilors mentioned concern about disrupting the city’s bike path, the council unanimously approved Northeast Utilities Services Company’s request to use city property for required remediation work of the coal tar impacted sediments from within the banks of Mill Creek and the Ashuelot River.

The council voted unanimously to accept a reimbursement grant of $1,000 from the NH Police Standards and Training Council, a $4,500 Highway Safety Grant to purchase extrication equipment, a $7,980 grant from Primex for purchases recommended by the city’s Joint Loss Management Committee and a $3,750 grant from the NH Highway Safety Agency to fund the “Clique Campaign” on seatbelt compliance. The council also unanimously voted to accept a $100 donation from Greenwald Realty for a perennial planting bed on Main Street.

Councilors voted 11-3 in favor of an acquisition of 27.9 acres of land on Chapman Road for conservation purposes. According to City Planner Andrew Smith, the Conservation Commission wants to acquire the land because black bears, foxes, fisher cats and bobcats migrate along the area and a future land owner might allow the city to continue to clear trees in the area.

Councilor Nathaniel M. Stout said he would like to delay the acquisition in case of future options. Stout noted the possibility of better land to use for conservation purposes might become available for purchase.

Councilor Redfern said the city should take advantage of the offer while it still has the time.

“Not often do you have a landowner that is willing to sell for the city’s interest,” Redfern said.


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