Whately Selectboard keeps original license conditions ahead of Club Castaway’s return


Staff Writer

Published: 07-26-2023 5:20 PM

WHATELY — In anticipation of Franklin County’s only strip club reopening sometime in the near future, the Selectboard is sticking with the conditions it had placed on the club before it closed in 2020.

The owners of Club Castaway, located at 226 State Road at the intersection with Christian Lane, have explored several options since the business closed in 2020, including selling the strip club — which fell through in 2022 — and sharing their plans for the nation’s first-ever topless marijuana dispensary in February.

While they investigate the viability of the dispensary, Club Castaway’s owners have indicated they plan to reopen the strip club in the near future. When they appeared before the Selectboard in February, co-owners Nick Spagnola and Julius Sokol had anticipated reopening within 60 days. However, when reached this week, Spagnola declined to share an exact reopening date for the business.

“As always, we will comply with the conditions of our license and requests of the Selectboard,” he said.

While no exact date is given and the business’ Facebook page has been dormant since November, a dumpster has been outside the building, a new sign has been installed and the exterior has been repainted in recent months.

Ahead of the reopening, Selectboard members revisited some of the conditions they set on Club Castaway when Spagnola and Sokol began running the business on Oct. 29, 2019. Chief among those requirements were a four-month period in which the club needed to hire a police detail on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and written reports to the board from the club’s owners.

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The town also required Spagnola and Sokol to install a new security system — with camera access provided to Police Chief James Sevigne Jr. — and a new fence to screen abutters.

Based on how long the club was open under Spagnola and Sokol’s ownership, there are about 45 days left on that “probationary period,” which Selectboard members said they would like to retain for the rest of that term because the business hasn’t operated for several years.

“I would be in favor of the probationary period,” said member Julianna Waggoner. “Since the somewhat-waning of COVID, we haven’t seen what this looks like.”

At the end of the probationary period, the Selectboard will vote to decide on whether to keep the police detail requirement in place. The club’s director of security is also required to meet with Sevigne on a weekly basis to review operations during this period.

Fellow board member Joyce Palmer-Fortune noted they had to shut down the business in early 2020 while the town awaited the building inspector to sign off on a concrete wall that would act as a noise buffer between the club and an abutter.

From Whately’s standpoint, Club Castaway’s liquor and adult entertainment licenses are still in effect, but Town Administrator Brian Domina said the business still needs to show proof of liquor liability coverage.

“The board essentially wants to pick up right where it left off,” Domina said, summing up the discussion. He noted that the town has received “no further notification” about the club’s dispensary plans and even if it had, state Cannabis Control Commission regulations will slow that process down. “Regulations for social consumption are still in the works. … I think it will be a little while.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.