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WICA moves closer to liquor license

Theater in Langley has the OK to seek a full liquor license.

South Whidbey School District approved an application proposal for liquor by the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (WICA) at its March 27 meeting.

“They reminded us that when they opened 15 years ago, their very first night was a champagne reception,” said Board Chairman Steve Scoles.

“Going forward, they’re not going to do anything different than in the past.”

Increasing liquor service was school officials’ main hangup at its March business meeting. Liability gave the school board pause when WICA initially requested its approval for a liquor license.

“The district is very concerned about liability,” said Superintendent Jo Moccia.

The arts center sits on surplus school district property in Langley, a stone’s throw from Langley Middle School. State law allows the school district to veto WICA’s liquor license request.

Liquor will not be kept in house by WICA, which was a selling point for one board member.

“For me, the reassurance was that the liquor is not kept on site,” Scoles said.

The theater occasionally hosts wine receptions on opening nights and serves alcohol during its annual fundraiser auction. Its other main alcohol sales event is DjangoFest Northwest. Last year, WICA sold $1,581 in beer and wine, and the group spent $400 on supplies and $600 for the temporary liquor licenses and permits.

“We have no interest and no plans to operate a bar, nor do we have the resources to stock a full service bar,” said Stacie Burgua, WICA’s executive director in an email. “Our plan is to serve alcohol at specialty programming and events, as well as the Theatre Series shows, as always.”

In addition to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the school district sought written assurances that no spirits are served and that the frequency of alcohol sales does not increase.

“It actually puts them under more oversight from the liquor board,” Moccia said.

Damian Greene, an insurance agent, was the lone board member to vote against the proposal, which passed, 4-1.

During the course of WICA’s proposal and negotiations with the district, it was discovered the theater group had not met its agreed liability coverage of $10 million. WICA only had liability insurance for $5 million, but that was changed for the school district to approve the liquor license request.

Earlier in the meeting, the board was split on whether to table the issue to May’s business meeting. That motion was voted down 3-2.

Once put to an approval vote, the board had three options: do nothing for implicit approval, vote yes or vote no. They voted yes.

 

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