Hadley neighbors debate proposed restaurant arcade
HADLEY — The Quarters, a restaurant and vintage arcade seeking to open on Railroad Street, sparked strong opinions at a public hearing Wednesday.
The fate of the proposed establishment remains unresolved because the Select Board delayed voting on licenses until March 5.
A crowd turned out to comment on the Quarters’ applications for licenses for liquor, food, live entertainment and amusement devices — which is necessary for the arcade games the restaurant will offer. The Quarters is seeking to open at 8 Railroad St. beside the Norwottuck Rail Trail.
Close to 30 people filled the Select Board meeting, overflowing into the hall.
George Myers and Greg Stutsman, the founders of the Quarters, emphasized that it would be a restaurant first and foremost. They said although they are applying for a license for live entertainment, they only intend to hold four live shows per month.
Some residents shared the unease of Ted Giles, who said that he was happy to see a restaurant and arcade go into the location, but he is concerned about alcohol and live entertainment.
“It is a quiet neighborhood,” Giles said. “We live at 23 Middle St. and we can hear the marching band at the high school practicing like they are in our back yard.”
Several residents expressed concerns about traffic, the proximity of children on the Norwottuck Rail Trail and the possibility of intoxicated patrons disturbing the neighborhood.
John Loconsolo of 32 West St. said he thought the Quarters would be bad for the character of the neighborhood.
“When you look back at Railroad Street and all the establishments that have been in business there, what you find are family oriented businesses: the ice cream shop, the bicycle shop,” he said. “This is a business that is not family oriented.”
Georgia Loconsolo, also of 32 West St., said she did not believe that the Quarters was appropriate for the area, which she described as quiet, agricultural and bucolic.
But some Hadley residents who said they live near Railroad Street argued that the Quarters would improve the neighborhood. James Burbidge of 41 West St. said that although he loves the neighborhood, Railroad Street looks derelict.
“All the businesses there are dying, they’re crumbling,” Burbidge said. “There’s really nothing on Railroad Street that would actually bring people back into town.”
He said that the people he has spoken to about the Quarters are excited to see it come.
Emily Houk of Cemetery Road said she and many of her neighbors are also enthusiastic about the Quarters because it would help “reinvigorate the area,” and give them a place to meet and hang out with friends on weekend afternoons.
“Frankly speaking, a place that has old arcade games that are nostalgic is going to attract nerds,” Houk said, “and nerds are really respectful.”
Concerns about whether abutters had received proper notice of a site plan approval hearing already held Dec. 18 and continued to Feb. 5 by the Planning Board, along with questions about the plans raised by Timothy Neyhart, the building commissioner, and Fire Captain Michael Spanknebel, led the Select Board to continue the hearing on all four licenses to its next meeting.
Members of the Select Board voiced concerns about the Quarters, but none indicated whether they would vote to support the license applications.