Easthampton Historical Commission OK’s demo of 2 buildings at Tasty Top site

  • Easthampton’s longtime summertime staple, Tasty Top ice cream shop, was demolished on Friday. CONTRIBUTED/IRENE GARJIAN

Staff Writer
Published: 10/27/2022 9:29:46 PM

EASTHAMPTON — In the wake of the demolition of the former Tasty Top ice cream stand, the city’s Historical Commission grudgingly approved Wednesday night the demolition of two other “historically significant” buildings on Northampton Street.

The buildings were referred to the commission’s review as required by the city’s demolition delay ordinance because they are both more than 50 years old.

During the public hearing, Easthampton attorney Donald Abel Jr., who represents Tasty Top Development LLC, described the buildings as a “safety hazard” and said any historical significance has long since been lost.

“This was a piece of land that was under contract with Stop and Shop for a number of years and the property owner continued to use the facility for the Tasty Top and the driving range but the rest of the property was left vacant,” Abel said. “And I think the last time somebody was there was 2008.

“You can see … there’s vegetation growing in there, the ceilings are open, structural supports are in bad shape … I think it poses a significant public safety hazard as well. Should, God forbid, safety officials ever need to go into that structure, it would be extremely dangerous for them.”

Commission member John Bruner said that it was important people understand that the commission was not sympathetic to those that have to turn to demolition as the result of neglect. He said it’s the responsibility of the property owner not to let people come and go on the property as they please.

“It’s not an excuse to come back and say, ‘Well, now look how terrible it is. What a corrupt space it is to be torn down.’ We’re working really hard to make it so that that’s not an easy thing for anybody to do anymore,” he said. “And I just want to say it because we’re really strongly offended by the idea that people just wait until it’s so decrepit … it’s gotta come down.”

Abel indicated that his client, Tasty Top Development LLC, which is registered to Frank A. DeMarinis, owner of Sage Engineering & Contracting Inc. of Westfield, purchased the 93-97 Northampton St. from Dennis Courtney for $2.2 million on April 11.

“I understand that, but I wanted to say that,” Bruner said. “What we want is people to trust the system. And just like the Tasty Top building, I hope that in the future people will believe that the commission works in the best interests of the town.”

Over the past week, people have expressed anger that the former Tasty Top building was demolished last Friday. Several posts on Facebook generated more than 100 comments and more than 500 reactions to the news of Tasty Top’s end.

Members of the commission also expressed some concern over the former ice cream stand building’s demise.

“Can I ask why you took down the Tasty Top?” said member Beverly Wodicka.

An engineer related to the Tasty Top Development indicated that the building was nothing that could be used in the future redevelopment of the site.

Representatives for the development also indicated that it was still premature to give any specifics as to what the site will be used for.

In January, the commission held a hearing on the future of the sales office/golf shed that was located on what was listed by the city’s records as 93 Northampton St., because much like the two buildings at 95 Northampton St., the structure falls under the city’s demolition delay ordinance because it was more than 50 years old.

In that case, the commission stated that the golf shed was “not in need of historical protection.”

And although the Tasty Top building, located at what’s described in Easthampton’s records as 97 Northampton St., was built in 1950, the commission did not have a chance to weigh in. Instead, the city issued a building permit to demolish the Tasty Top building on May 3, according to Assistant City Planner Jamie Webb.

Webb said she was not sure why that happened, but did note that the city will likely be issuing new addresses for the new sites in the future.

She did note that the original 33-acre parcel had several addresses attached to it, adding another level of confusion.

The property previously contained six buildings, including the two-story barn, a one-story garage, a two-story residential structure with a stone foundation, an enclosed gazebo structure and a sales office/shed for Easthampton Golf driving range, according to a description contained in a 2006 asbestos and regulated material survey of the structures on the property.

The buildings are the last two on the property that was previously 103 Northampton St. They’re southwest of the former Tasty Top building.

Before the $2.2 million sale of the land at 93-97 Northampton St., a portion of that property was carved out for the future construction of a 2,217-square-foot drive-thru Starbucks with 33 parking spaces. The Planning Board approved a special permit in March for construction and operation of that parcel, which is between Burger King and the now former Tasty Top.

In the end, commission Chairperson Michael Czerwiec said that the condition of the buildings were not conducive to restoration and agreed with Bruner’s sentiment that the commission did not prefer to accept the demolition of historic buildings due to neglect.

In a 4-1 vote, the commission approved the demolition of a two-story residential structure and a two-story barn at 95 Northampton St. Member Nora DeJasu was opposed.

“With the caveat that we don’t want to do it this way ever again,” said Bruner.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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