Dennis Desmond: Crushing another Florence enterprise 

Published: 05-26-2023 9:59 AM

What have we done in Florence? Once again, the city of Northampton is treating us like the kid who gets blamed for everything. As we were coming out of Covid restrictions, it was our local brewpub that was sidelined. While other breweries locally and around the state with nearly identical models as Brew Practitioners were allowed to reopen, the city prevented the same in Florence. Those other cities and towns found ways to interpret state regulations to stay in compliance while still supporting their local businesses. Not so in Northampton, where the exasperated owners gave up the fight and left town. They now successfully operate in East Longmeadow, where they presumably encounter a more receptive local government.

And now it's Bombyx, our local cultural and community arts center that also hosts live music. Situated in the still operating Congregational Church building on Pine Street and home to the BeitAhavah Reform Synagogue and Cloverdale Preschool, Bombyx operates a visionary non-profit model where the live music keeps everything going. The sanctuary may fill from time to time for music events as well as for church services. When those church services include a robust choir and musical accompaniment, the city of Northampton apparently does not have a problem, but if a paid event is comprised of a solo singer-guitarist, according to the city, the space is now a nightclub and strictly interpreted fire regulations come into effect. Arguments about fire safety are not credible when they do not apply to a church service but they do to a performer in the same room with the same capacity. Once again, rather than interpreting state regulations with an eye towards supporting local businesses and resources, the city of Northampton is finding a way to crush another Florence enterprise.

Dennis Desmond



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