Editorial: A pint at the Paquachuck

Posted 11/15/19

The Paquachuck Inn has served drinks to thirsty fishermen and been a Westport Point gathering place for a good part of its 192-year history and it would be a shame to see that tradition come to an …

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Editorial: A pint at the Paquachuck


The Paquachuck Inn has served drinks to thirsty fishermen and been a Westport Point gathering place for a good part of its 192-year history, and it would be a shame to see that tradition come to an end.

There’s a good chance that will happen, though, unless both sides — Zoning Board of Appeals and inn ownership — find common sense ways to make it work.

The Board of Selectmen last year approved the inn’s request for a liquor license and it’s now up to the inn to convince the Zoning Board to grant the necessary variance.

Most of the neighbors seem fine with the idea. A good number turned out to tell selectmen that an inn with a bar has long been part of the Point and they’d welcome a place to meet over a cold one — the Post Office is okay, one said, but you can only stand there and chat for so long.

The inn did itself no favors by filing a flawed application. Its representation of itself becoming some sort of private club was both inaccurate and a needless distraction — since the plan is for anyone to be able to walk in off the street and order a drink, this would be no club.

And the board was right to question seeming contradictions on matters such as septic system and what might happen during special events such as weddings that would push numbers over the limit of 44 people.
The big issue, though, is parking, and for that zoners seem to demand the impossible.

They may be correct that allowing the inn to serve a few dozen people at its bar will exacerbate a parking situation that can be a problem in summer.

But to require the inn to provide “an absolutely exact parking plan” is to hold it to a standard that likely can’t be met and to which others down there have not been held.

That parking situation has stymied all who’ve examined it so far. A while back, selectmen called for a study to clearly define who owns what space at the Point, where the parking rights lie, and whether some sort of parking plan can be devised. The answers remain elusive.

The inn has been a central figure in Westport Point life longer than most there. It was where many gathered a few years ago on a hurricane anniversary to share tales and beers. More recently it was where Tony Connors offered his hugely entertaining Westport History 101 classes.

Allowing this small bar to (re-)open won’t help summertime parking at the Point, but solving that issue is a challenge for all involved, town included, not just the Paquachuck.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.