September 16, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Legal C Bar at 96 Derby St. is the latest restaurant to be granted permission to offer expanded outdoor dining, with the accompanying serving of alcohol, under a COVID-19 expedited permitting process.
This provides eating establishments, if approved by the local licensing authority -- in this case, the Selectmen -- with a way to make up for lost revenue due to COVID-19 inside dining restrictions and related issues. The current outdoor seating licenses granted by the selectmen under this process expire Nov. 1.
However, Gov. Charlie Baker recently had some good news to offer -- an executive order extending that deadline indefinitely, contingent on the approval of the licensing authority that granted the initial permits.
Legal C, which just reopened in August, will now be offering additional outside table service beyond the current patio seating, so more customers can enjoy their popular fare -- including clams, crab, calamari, cod, and signature cocktails, wine, and beer -- outdoors when the weather cooperates. The Selectmen approved that plan last night.
The intention is to install outdoor heaters for when the weather takes on a chill. There is also reduced indoor seating, with social distancing and other COVID-19 requirements in place.
The board, based on the town's restaurant reopening group's recommendation, approved the addition of 14 outdoor seats on top of the current 16 seats already on the patio.
The additional seats will be at four socially-distanced four-tops, set up in the same number of adjacent parking spaces in front of Talbots and Legal C. The area will be cordoned off from the rest of the parking lot.
Selectman Joseph Fisher was pleased with the proposal. "I'm a fan of Legal C and am looking forward to the additional outdoor seating," he said.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power acknowledged that "this has been a challenging time for restaurants, and as the weather gets colder, these challenges aren't going to go away."
Accordingly, she said the board will "look into how we can extend [the Nov. 1] deadline" for Hingham restaurants that have been granted expedited permits. "I understand [that operating a restaurant, with COVID-19 restrictions in place] will continue to be difficult."
Legal C is open every day from noon to 9 p.m. for indoor and outdoor dining and takeout.
In other business at the meeting:
* The Selectmen, upon the recommendation of Interim Police Chief David Jones, agreed to go the sole assessment center route as the only device in evaluating candidates eligible for promotion within the Hingham Police Department, rather than through the multiple-choice civil service exam process.
The promotional list is valid for two years, so near the end of that period, a decision needs to be made about which path to take. The current list expires in November.
The assessment center provides realistic scenarios presenting various challenges that the candidates on the promotional list respond to -- i.e. an employee situation, citizen complaint, public concern, or a response management issue -- with the questions tailored to the town served by, in this case, the lieutenant and sergeant candidates. The questions are tailored to specific ranks.
Selectman William Ramsey favors this approach because he has heard "from friends in the law enforcement field that the civil service exam really doesn't test the individuals who would be in those positions in [what would be] their day-to-day operations."
Jones said that he, too, has heard concerns that the civil service exam "is not a realistic assessment of how well an officer can do the job," noting that other communities have opted for the sole assessment center approach as well.
The assessment panel normally includes retired police chiefs and other police administrators.
Last night, the Selectmen agreed to the hiring of a "delegation administrator" to the assessment process, at what Jones said would be a cost of between $6,000 to $8,000 per rank -- in this case, lieutenant and sergeant.
* During two votes related to the signing of a contract for a new dump truck with a sander and a plow, and authorizing Town Administrator Tom Mayo to sign a contract with a tree service for additional tree-trimming and removal services beyond the DPW's ability -- such as following a severe weather event -- DPW Supt. Randy Sylvester told the board that his department is down by six workers.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power noted how stressful it is when a department is understaffed. "In the next few weeks, I think we as a board -- considering in the background the town's financial situation -- may want to take a look at this issue, including open positions in other departments."
* The Selectmen approved a Traffic Committee recommendation to install a stop sign at the end of Volusia Road where it meets Manatee Road, at the request of a resident and supported by other neighbors. This is due to sight-line obstructions -- including a large tree and a newly-installed fence, an influx of school-age children into the neighborhood, and the number of delivery drivers who frequent the area.
* The board went into executive session in preparation for negotiations with non-union personnel and/or to conduct contract negotiations with non-union personnel (Fire Chief Steve Murphy).