SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) – It was standing room only for a License Commission public hearing on a 1 a.m. closing time proposal for city bars.
People both for and against the proposal offered testimony for more than two hours at City Hall.
Mayor Domenic Sarno is asking the commission to consider moving last call from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. to help reduce violence in the city.
“If people feel safe your all gonna make money,” said Sarno.
The mayor said his 1 a.m. entertainment curfew that was implemented last year has been effective at reducing problems around last call. The curfew requires bars to shut off entertainment at 1 a.m. unless they have a waiver from the city. If the bar does not have a waiver they can still serve alcohol until 2 a.m. This latest proposed would make all bars close at 2 a.m., no exceptions.
“There has been a marked improvement, this has worked,” said Sarno.
Police department representatives testified and gave statistics that show since the entertainment curfew police calls are down between midnight and 3 a.m. Looking at April 6 through May 6 of 2011 compared to the same time in 2012 calls for service were down 22% and arrests were down 30%.
Meantime, bar owners and their employees made up the majority of the statements against the proposal. Many said their customers would simply go somewhere that is still open until 2 a.m.
“They come from all over western Massachusetts and Connecticut. They are gonna be less inclined to drive this way if they knew at 1 o’clock there is gonna be no service,” said Matt Hubeny, manager Center Stage.
“I think closing at 1 a.m. is a bad idea,” said Edward Grimaldi, owner Samuels.
Grimaldi said he would loose 12% of his revenues if he had to close at 1 a.m. and would also have to make some drastic changes.
“We’d have plenty of layoffs if this comes to pass. We’d loose 30 to 35 people within the first two to three months.” said Grimaldi.
“If we can’t be open making money at that time, the shift, your gonna have to let go a bar tender, a waitress and all sorts of staff,” said Hubeny.
Several residents also shared their approval and disapproval of the proposal.
The License Commission ultimately will be the one to decided to implement the proposal or not. No word on when they’ll discuss it again.