BERLIN — An ambitious idea by a local non-profit wasn’t able to get off the ground this week.
The Berlin Mayor and Council, while supportive of what the group was trying to do, cited practical concerns as their justification for denying the application.
“I think the plan is flawed,” Mayor Gee Williams told Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) Director of Development and Donor Relations Stefanie Gordy.
Gordy appeared before the council Monday to pitch her organization’s idea for an expanded Halloween haunted house. Though WYFCS has hosted such an event at their town office for the past two years, Gordy explained the group wanted to extend the event outside and encompass its parking lot.
By expanding outside, Gordy said that WYFCS would be able to craft a unique, and hopefully, genuinely creepy experience. It would also allow easier management of the flow of people into the event.
“We do need to control the line,” she told the council, adding that the past two years have averaged about 1,500 visitors annually. “This is a big fundraiser for us.”
While they repeatedly empathized with WYFCS, no one on the council supported the expansion of the event.
“That’s a little much to be asking for,” said Councilman Dean Burrell.
Including the parking lot in the haunted house would mean closing it off to public traffic for the majority of the day and well into the evening.
“That’s a public parking lot,” Councilwoman Lisa Hall pointed out.
Williams questioned the event’s intended date, Oct. 27, and noted that that would put it the better part of a week ahead of Berlin’s own traditional Halloween celebration.
“We’ve got the biggest Halloween in this entire region,” he said.
Having the haunted house early would also mean that extra police would be needed on-duty in Berlin before the actual holiday.
“At least it would be additional manpower, if not as big [as Halloween],” said BPD Chief Arnold Downing.
Williams suggested that WYFCS consider moving the event to coincide with Berlin’s Halloween celebrations on Oct. 31. But since Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, Gordy explained WYFCS could not shot down the facility during the week.
Though closing down the offices during the week might cost WYFCS counseling revenue and not be ideal, Williams felt that it was the best possible compromise and would allow the haunted house to sync with the town’s traditional events.
“I would recommend that you revise your plan,” he said.
Shutting down during the week was something that Gordy didn’t think was feasible; however, she promised to let everyone at WYFCS know about the suggestion and will return to the council.