Bar representatives publicly address growing Block Island drinking concerns

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WLNE) — For the first time this summer, restaurant and business owners joined the town council to address the continued concerns of a drinking culture on Block Island — especially this summer.

“I think this is about ideas,” said Sven Risom, Second Warden of New Shoreham. “The way the town and community can work together to improve compliance number one and reduce what I consider to be too much open containers.”

Six bars and restaurants failed an alcohol compliance check over a week ago. New Shoreham Police instructed underaged informants without identification to purchase a drink from the establishments.

The Oar and Ballard’s were the only businesses to fail the check two days in a row.

Steve Filippi, owner of Ballard’s, responded to criticism against the bar Monday, saying, “You’re not really focusing on the problem. It’s just a blame game. You can’t point the finger at one business for the amount of underaged kids coming repeatedly off the ferry.”

“We’re dealing with 18-year old’s, 19-year old’s, backpacks in hand, and they drink, and they try to go into Ballard’s and try to go into other establishments. That’s one of our biggest issues,” he said.

Suggested resolutions included increased police and security presence, ID scanners, and more family-friendly attractions on the island.

“Do we talk about our little foibles? Sure, we do we want to fix them. But, that isn’t to say it’s not safe, it’s not great for families, it’s not great for boaters, it’s not a great community,” Risom concluded.

Rhode Island State Police continue investigations into an alleged sexual assault on Block Island over the Fourth of July weekend.

Categories: News, Rhode Island