Springfield Republican: “Police report continued use of booths at adult store”

MassLive, the website of The Republican, reports today that viewing booths are still in use at the Amazing.net porn shop in Springfield even though Mayor Charles Ryan ordered them closed in November due to lewd activity and crime:

A police sergeant said in a public hearing today that patrons were using video booths at the Amazing.net adult-themed store on Bridge Street as recently as yesterday, even though the store’s license has been revoked.

Mayor Charles V. Ryan, who issues entertainment licenses, said after the 90-minute hearing at City Hall he will announce tomorrow whether he will grant a 2008 license for the operation of the booths to store owner Capital Video Corp. of Cranston, R.I…

Police Sgt. Norman F. Charest said he inspected the store yesterday, saw that patrons were using two of the booths and said an employee told him the booths had been in operation since she began working there in May…

[Capital Video lawyer Thomas] Lesser objected to Ryan’s decision to include in his decision about the 2008 entertainment license the information that led him to revoke the store’s previous license.

“If you’re going to include that, then you’re no longer an unbiased fact-finder,” Lesser said.

Ryan said it was appropriate to include the 2006 information to provide a history of the store’s conduct in deciding its capability to run a good business.

See also:

Comments at Urban Compass: “Amazing.net in Downtown Springfield Applies for Entertainment License” (1/2/08)
NoPolitician: …Considering that much of the area is densely residential in nature, and based on the anecdotes listed here of businesses who shun that area due to Amazing.net’s presence, it seems like a no-brainer to deny this license…

Mike Dobbs: Without the booths, the company may re-examine whether or not it’s having a store there. That would be good news to developers in the neighborhood…

Heather Brandon [author of Urban Compass]: …This store hasn’t been a good neighbor.

Full Text of Springfield’s Decision to Revoke Capital Video’s Viewing Booth Entertainment License
…the undisputed facts in this matter show that the video booths on the Capital Video premises have been used for prostitution, assignation or lewdness, sexual assaults and are connected to drug activity and therefore, the video booths are deemed a nuisance and there are substantial grounds for denial or revocation of the 2007 license…

…the testimony shows repeated and persistent evidence of illegal activity and complicity and reckless disregard of Capital Video’s management over a long period of time which is sufficient to constitute a nuisance.

Springfield Republican: “Ryan shuts adult shop booths”
“I think it’s a real strong move to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood,” [Police Commissioner Edward A.] Flynn said.

Gazette: “Porn store’s viewing booths raise stink in Springfield”
During the hearing, Nota himself said one of the holes in the Springfield viewing booths had been made with a drill, something that we presume would make a lot of noise. More generally, Internet comments from patrons suggest that Capital Video’s stores in Springfield, Kittery, Maine and elsewhere can be popular places for people to meet up for sex, at least when the store management chooses to be lax. And being lax is profitable. As one patron puts it, “theres more money going in the machines with lights off and holes in the walls…”

NoPornNorthampton Reaches Out to Springfield Neighborhood with Advice on Adult Enterprises
Springfield police dispatch reports from December 1998 through April 2007 [see excerpts] paint a picture of burglaries, panic alarms, ambulance calls and altercations in and around the Amazing.net store at Apremont Triangle…

Squirt member comments suggest Amazing.net’s Springfield store cycles between being (profitably) permissive, then restricting activities to avoid being shut down by the city. Similar cycles are hinted at in the comments about Amazing.net’s Kittery, Maine store (explicit). Lasting changes appear to have taken hold only when Kittery passed health regulations and removed the doors from the viewing booths. Here are some of the recent comments on the Springfield store:

finghorny, 6/2/06: glory holes closed up again somone bring some tools and reopen them

pornman, 8/3/06: stopped by tonight to see whats up, the holes have been reopened !!!!!!!!! had a nice time.

justme03, 11/30/06: was there wed day 1:30ish busy but holes are closed and very bright now all the light in the hall or on. dont they know theres more money going in the machines with lights off and holes in the walls

a1buttmuncher, 12/5/06: They have been cited by the city and had to close up the holes and they are keep a close eye on the back. The lights are up and if they see you opening doors they will throw you out. They are very serious I witnessed the manager throwing out a guy I saw there all the time. Be careful and discreet or you will not place to play during the cold winter months. I agree that it is not really worth the time with the bright lights and no holes but they will be back eventually. Be Patient!
Springfield Republican Reports on Apremont Triangle Mailing about Amazing.net
“Residents…told The Republican that they believe the store draws prostitutes as well as vagrants who publicly urinate on their properties…”

Capital Video’s Springfield Porn Shop Repels Sought-After Businesses
“The [potential grocery] market is really the key, we think, to the whole building. The people that come, the market operator–their issue is number one, the Video Expo [Amazing.net] across the street, and the crowd that you see around it…”

Capital Video Springfield: Secondary Effects Extend to Prostitution; Actions the City Can Take
[Fred Rowe:] Outside, we have both male and female prostitutes standing across the street, by our building, and we have a vacant lot that we use for parking. They stand there, and they wait for [customers] to come out, and they solicit them, and they try to take them out behind our building, and do their business. It’s unbelievable.

Viewing Booths and HIV: An Open Letter to Thomas Lesser of Northampton, Attorney for Capital Video
We understand you have engaged with Capital Video to defend the license for their viewing booths in Springfield. We would like to call your attention to the role establishments like these play in the transmission of HIV. During 2003-2005, the most recent data available, Springfield had nearly the highest rate of HIV infection diagnosis in our state, second only to much-smaller Provincetown. The fourth-highest infection rate is found in Holyoke. Male-to-male sex is the leading cause of HIV infection in Massachusetts, and increasingly so in recent years.

As you may be aware, Capital Video’s stores in Springfield, Kittery and Meriden have featured prominently on the ‘cruising’ website, Squirt.org. Comments on the Internet may be hearsay in the eyes of the law. Nevertheless, they describe the reality that these stores cater to a group of people who are cavalier in the extreme about their personal health and the health of their sexual partners. Capital Video sells media that encourages promiscuity and heedlessness, and realizes increased profits when it turns a blind eye to patrons’ activity on its premises. Despite Capital Video’s protestations that it discourages sexual activity in its stores, in an era when pornographic content of all kinds can be accessed directly in the home, the unique selling point of viewing booths is to facilitate physical sexual contact between two or more people…

Lesser Newman: Capital Video Has Seen the Light and Will Make its Springfield Viewing Booths Safe
The inclination of Capital Video clerks to ‘look the other way’ is legendary. See, for example, these comments from Squirt.org members about Capital Video stores…

Employee Arrested for Selling Poppers at Amazing.net in Boston (12/28/07)
Police say they sent undercover officers into the store to purchase the poppers…

According to police, the two suspects who sold the poppers to the undercover officers and Hammond were arrested during the bust.

Several inhalants were obtained during the search. Police say they also recovered a bag of marijuana from Hammond.