Rafters Sports Bar & Restaurant
After 1.5 hours of sometimes agonizing deliberation the Amherst Select Board, keepers of the public way and front line pot dispensary czars, voted 4-0-1 to issue a "Letter of Support" to Happy Valley Ventures, the 4th such approval (out of 4 requests) in just the last five months.
But this one was different. W-A-Y different.
The other three involved locations that are currently unoccupied, whereas Happy Valley is buying and tearing down a local institution, Rafters Sports Bar.
Although their lawyer pointed out that the $2 million Purchase & Sale agreement (almost three times assessed value) could be matched by Rafters as they have a "right of first refusal" in the current lease.
And their C.E.O. complained that by trying to force them to address the Rafters dilemma "changes the bar" and puts them at a competitive disadvantage compared to the other three companies which is probably a restraint of trade violation.
Insert: CEO Edward Lauth (right) & his attorney, former state senator Andrea Nuciforo
Temporary Town Manager Pete Hechenbleikner advised the SB "Any redevelopment has impact on local business. It's best to set aside this particular business and simply ask is this a good plan for this particular site. If so, support it; if not don’t."
To which Chair Alisa Brewer responded, "It feels irresponsible."
But in the end (at 10:30 PM) they grudgingly took the vote and possibly sealed the fate of a local long-time, responsible -- some would argue beloved -- small business.
Rafters sits on corner lot University Drive & Amity Street at a main gateway to UMass