September half-marathon to be Tree House Brewing Co.’s first 5,000-capacity event

Tree House Brewing Co. Compliance and Business Development Manager Allison Masley speaks to the Deerfield Selectboard Wednesday evening about the company’s Sept. 15 half-marathon.

Tree House Brewing Co. Compliance and Business Development Manager Allison Masley speaks to the Deerfield Selectboard Wednesday evening about the company’s Sept. 15 half-marathon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-16-2024 3:08 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With the company’s emergency action plan nearly finalized and approval from the Deerfield Selectboard, Tree House Brewing Co.’s September half-marathon will serve as the popular brewery’s first 5,000-capacity event.

The town had granted conditional approval for the increased capacity — up from 1,500 — in December, but as work continued on the company’s emergency action plan, it opted to stick with its current concert and event capacity for the summer season and instead has pitched its Sept. 15 half-marathon as its first increased-capacity event. This will allow for up to 2,500 runners and 2,500 spectators.

Tree House Compliance and Business Development Manager Allison Masley appeared before the board Wednesday evening to lay out the company’s proposal, as well as allay concerns raised by residents last year, with the chief concern being traffic in town and the inability for some residents to leave their homes during the race.

“One of the ways we hope to communicate better is by hiring a company to be a community liaison,” Masley said, referring to Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises, which has worked with numerous road races, including the Boston Marathon. “[The liaison] will personally reach out, whether it’s by phone, email or in person, to people along the route to give them an opportunity to ask questions, but also to really give them as much information as we can that can’t necessarily be construed in a mailer.”

Selectboard member Blake Gilmore asked for reassurance that residents, specifically those on River Road where there may be runners on both sides of the road, would be able to leave during the race. Masley said folks will be able to communicate with race organizers if they need to leave their home once the race has started.

“If they’re OK with hanging out at home, we want them to come and watch the race,” she said. “If they do need to leave, absolutely, they have that resource to be able to get in and out.”

Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel added that there were “not enough community relations” ahead of the 2023 half-marathon, but they have “learned a lot from last time.”

Other tweaks to the event, which will mostly remain the same as last year’s version, include no parking at the brewery during the race, an earlier start time of 8 a.m. to avoid congestion at churches on the route in South Deerfield and shuttle bus drop-off on the side of Routes 5 and 10, rather than in the parking lot. The bus drop-off arrangement will cut down on busses making left-hand turns back toward satellite parking areas, as they will head north toward Greenfield and loop back around.

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Masley also briefly addressed the emergency action plan and noise complaints from last summer’s concerts.

“Part of my goal of creating the document before you guys is to create a scale-uppable process,” Masley said of the emergency action plan, which serves as a baseline and can be amended as needed. “So we have that infrastructure in place to wiggle.”

“One thing people should be aware of, and hopefully reassured of, is this is a document that has to be updated every year,” added Selectboard Chair Tim Hilchey. “As situations arise and as we learn, we can adjust the document every year to better serve the residents.”

As the company continues to work with the town’s public safety departments, it is also looking to work with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to explore the construction of a second driveway at the request of the Deerfield Police Department. If the brewery cannot get approval for a curb cut from the state, it will be expected to lay out how it would handle thousands of people leaving the venue at once in the event of an emergency.

In terms of noise, Masley said the company is doing some minor construction to its outdoor stage location, which she said should help mitigate noise concerns.

The Selectboard unanimously approved the half-marathon, and Hilchey said Thursday afternoon that the emergency action plan is in its final stages and should be finished soon.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.