Boston Harbor Hotel managers said today they will no longer allow members of the public onto a dock on which it offers live musical performances after an August incident in which a couple fell off the dock into the briny shallow - ironically while dancing to the theme song from the movie "Footloose."
Only musicians and people setting up screens for the movies the hotel also shows on the dock will be allowed on it in the future, hotel attorney Carolyn Conway told city licensing head Kathleen Joyce.
After the couple's dunking the night of Aug. 14, BPD licensing detectives cited the hotel for a number of violations, including having live music on a floating dock without approval, failing to obtain one-time entertainment licenses for performances and "exposing patrons to unsafe and unapproved outdoor venue (floating dock)." The couple was retrieved from the water drenched but not injured.
Conway said the dock, which has become "an integral part of the city of Boston entertainment venue," has been operated pretty much the same for the more than 20 years it's been installed during the spring and summer outside the hotel.
Conway, who handled the hotel's initial permitting for the dock, acknowledged it's possible that "this is something that has evolved" and that, maybe, the dock was not initially approved for dancing. She said her records from back then are "in such deep storage," she was unable to find them.
In any case, no more public admittance to the dock, which sits between a hotel patio and a more permanent dock with a gazebo.
She said that after the incident, she tried to get guidance from a variety of government agencies - including the Army Corps of Engineers and OSHA - on how to make the dock safe. The Army Corps of Engineers, she said, basically replied "What?" and would not take a position. OSHA was unable to provide any guidance, either. BPD Det. Daniel MacDonald added the Coast Guard also demurred responsibility.
Conway said she will instead rely on ISD to oversee the re-installation of the dock next spring - after it is brought over from its winter storage spot in East Boston. MacDonald suggested that even with the prohibition on public dancing, the hotel should still hire a safety officer trained in water rescues to supplement the life preservers the hotel now stocks near the dock.