Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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SANFORD — An upcoming benefit dance for pancreatic cancer research has been moved from a popular banquet hall that recently hosted sex parties to a smaller venue that will likely limit the event's success.
Great Beginnings Catering at Mousam View Place at 47 High St. in Sanford is a former Knights of Columbus hall that holds about 500 people.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Organizers of the Nov. 5 fundraiser fear that the hall's operators may lose their liquor and business licenses, which are up for review before the Town Council on Tuesday.
Town officials have ordered James and Susan Colley, license holders for Great Beginnings Catering at Mousam View Place, to stop hosting monthly sex parties for a web-based swingers' club.
James Colley has told town officials via email that the parties will stop, but his recent applications for new liquor, food, dance and entertainment licenses hang in the balance.
"I don't know how he's going to get his licenses again because town officials aren't too happy with him right now," Brad Hoffman, a benefit organizer, said today. "We also heard some people wouldn't come because of what went on there."
Hoffman and Linda Smilie planned to hold the benefit dance, for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, at the former Knights of Columbus hall at 47 High St., which holds 500 people. Smilie's late husband, Robert, died from the disease in 2008. Banners and posters have been hung all over town.
They've moved the dance to the 220-seat Elks Club at 13 Elm St., which puts an unexpected cap on their fundraising efforts. They've already sold 200 tickets to the 6:30 p.m. event.
"I wish there was another place bigger around here, but there just isn't," Hoffman said. "We've had it at Mousam View Place for the last two years. Last year, 250 people came, and we were expecting more this year."
Town officials moved to stop the sex parties after two undercover police officers, investigating several complaints, arranged to attend a swingers' party at the banquet hall on Oct. 15, said Police Chief Tom Connolly. They found about 40 people openly engaged in a wide variety of sexual acts.
Town officials said the parties violated local and state licensing regulations and municipal zoning regulations.
The building is owned by a Massachusetts real estate holding company. The Colleys are tenants.
Organizers of other events scheduled to be held at Mousam View Place in the near future also are reconsidering their plans, said Town Manager Mark Green.
The Colleys haven't returned calls for comment.
"I'm disappointed," Hoffman said. "The events went well there in the past. (Colley) was probably just trying to make money, given the economy. If things work out for him, maybe we'll hold it there next year."