Businessman to Russell Denver: “You’re a facilitator”

On August 30, Arthur Arena of Capital Enterprises (West Springfield, MA, no relation to Capital Video), wrote to Russell Denver to express his objection to the porn shop proposed for 135 King Street in Northampton. Mr. Denver is president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield. NoPornNorthampton had earlier contacted the ACCGS because R.J. Greeley, the leasing agent for 135 King Street, is a member. Mr. Denver dismissed NoPornNorthampton’s concerns by saying, “Please stop sending emails to the ACCGS about this issue. This is a private business transaction.”

After reading about our correspondence with the ACCGS, Mr. Arena wrote the following to Mr. Denver,

Mr. Denver

That’s someone (Greeley) that should be ejected from the Chamber of Commerce! Cancel their membership. What kind of people are you representing? This is a case of greed and in no way a positive business model for the community. I’ve seen this support by the Chamber over and over and you can only wonder why I dropped my membership after nearly 20 years after realizing that you do NOT represent the small business owner. You apparently have different and very strange goals! Business in front of quality of life. Shame on you and double shame on Greeley. You absolutely deserve all the e-mail and heat. You’re a facilitator….

Mr. Denver replied to Mr. Arena on August 31,

I tried to reach you by phone on 8/30/06 at 9:42 am but there was no answer. Thank you for your email.The Chamber by law is not able to discriminate on which company can or cannot join.If the property is properly zoned for that type of establishment should people not be upset with the elected officials that allowed that to happen.You comment about the Chamber not representing small business is as far off the mark as one can go.You should look at the makeup of the West Springfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors which is heavily represented by small business.Your comment about quality of life you should know that the WS Chamber provides scholarship money for WS High students to attend college,contributes heavily to organizations that provide supplies to WS school children,provided $15,000 in seed money for the redevelopment plans for the Merrick Section of WS which is home to many small businesses,and the WS Chamber started the WS Taste and ran it for several years to help give visibility to those small restaurants that populate WS.So as you can see if one looks around the Chamber does care about the quality of life issues and does support small business.

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We’ve all heard from businesspeople, and real estate developers in particular, that New England has too much regulation and it’s impeding growth. Here, however, we’re hearing from Mr. Denver and Robert Greeley that if it’s not actually against the law, businesspeople have the right to do whatever they want no matter what the consequences. Such an attitude intensifies the people’s mistrust of business, and encourages the regulations that business finds onerous.

If Mr. Denver feels uncomfortable with ejecting R.J. Greeley, there are many actions he can take short of that. He could have a chat with Mr. Greeley, pointing out that helping to open a Capital Video porn shop could be construed as selfishly profiting while putting the commerce of surrounding businesses at risk. Or the ACCGS could make a public statement that businesspeople should take great care in where they locate sexually oriented businesses. Certainly the ACCGS has no trouble employing fine-sounding rhetoric on its website. They would like to be perceived as leaders. The reality is less inspiring.

2 thoughts on “Businessman to Russell Denver: “You’re a facilitator”

  1. You say that the Chamber should “He could have a chat with Mr. Greeley, pointing out that helping to open a Capital Video porn shop could be construed as selfishly profiting while putting the commerce of surrounding businesses at risk.”

    Every business seeks profit.

    How can you say that Capital Video puts surrounding businesses at risk? At risk for what? Have the 40-odd Capital Video stores in New England caused a rash of businesses to go under? You have no proof to back up your assertions.

  2. The risks that sexually oriented businesses pose to their surroundings have been well documented for over two decades now. We cite some of these studies in our Impact of Porn category.

    I don’t know if you’ve toured some of Capital Video’s locations lately, but I have. Here are pictures from their Meriden (CT), Wethersfield (CT), and Springfield Amazing.net stores. The first two are located on cheerless highway strips that lack sidewalks. The Springfield store is located in a kind of mini-Combat Zone where I saw minimal pedestrian traffic even on a nice sunny weekend day in the summer. I felt unsafe just being in the vicinity of the store for a few minutes.

    I doubt the areas around these stores represent anyone’s vision for downtown King Street.

    If we’re passive and let Capital Video have its way on King Street, I imagine residents will soon regard it as they did a sex shop in Blaine, Washington:

    “We’ve been hearing the community say get rid of it,” said community development director Terry Galvin, [referring to their lone sex shop, the Blaine Book Company]. “This city is right on the edge of a growth spurt. Cities have windows of opportunity and this is it. We’ve got a problem in that the adult entertainment business acts as a kind of anti-gravity force.”

    After dedicated efforts by the citizens and officials of Blaine, the Blaine Book Company was eventually torn down in 2003. This came only after “years of frustration and community heartache for many local residents,” according to the local newspaper.

    The benefit of knowing history is that we can choose not to repeat it.

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