On Main Street Castleton stands an area brimming with social potential. Whispers around campus and nearby communities talk of the possibility of a university-backed bar to be placed on quaint Elm Street or in the space next to Castleton’s most recent addition, The Bakery.
“A bar around campus would help to eliminate drinking and driving. So many other schools have bars around campus. I just think that as a university, it’s time we allow the students that are 21 to have more offered to them,” said Senior Nicole Folino.
From Main Street Castleton, one must make a 10-minute drive to Lake Bomoseen to be immersed in a pub setting at the Fishtail Tavern, a favorite stop for students.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t go to Fishtail because it is so far away,” said junior Dominique Valancius.
The students who do make the trip need to then find a way back to town, usually under the influence. This has resulted in many students getting behind the wheel of car after drinking if a taxi or Saferide can’t be reached.
Castleton does offer a few options for hanging out, or as Sociology Professor Phillip Lamy calls them, “third places.”
“All people spend almost their whole life in three places – home, work or school, and then in the places where community happens – coffee houses, parks downtowns plazas, pubs, beer gardens and so on.”
Senior Matt Levins loves the idea of a local pub.
“I think it is a good idea if it is managed well, as in it would cause minimal issues to the community and campus alike. Having a bar would allow students a safer place to drink where they could be monitored rather than now where it’s a free for all, and students tend to drink heavily whereas in a bar they could be cut off,” he said.
Donald Billings, unavailable for an interview, is the founder of Roots Restaurant and The Bakery in Rutland. The Bakery II, Located in Castleton, is his latest creation and sources say he isn’t stopping there and that he could be the catalyst for a local bar-type scene.
“At other colleges that I’ve worked at in the past, they have tried to propose similar things and a lot of times it has worked out pretty well because of closer proximity to home. You’re not worrying so much about the students drunk driving or that sort of thing,” said Communication Professor Jessica Cowden.
Lamy believes having a pub closer to campus could be a “fantastic idea.”
“A big complaint around Castleton is that we don’t have anything like that, there’s no real pub or restaurant here. We have a coffee house but wouldn’t it be nice to have more places for people to hangout?” he said.
University President Dave Wolk agrees.
“I would support the development of a third place gathering spot where adult students could socialize with other adults, with or without adult beverages, acting responsibly in a mature, enjoyable environment. Period,” Wolk said.
Wolk emphasizes the importance of treating neighbors and their property with the utmost respect if any bar type environment were to be developed.
“I know that one of the biggest concerns right now is making sure that the university has a really good relationship with the surrounding communities,” she said.
Though no plans have been set into motion and the rumors are just that for now, the buzz is a positive one as excited students look to see what the future of Castleton’s third place scene will be all about.