Joseph Stankiewicz: Fears Northampton is not doing OK

  • Faces on Main Street Northampton recently closed. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 4/17/2019 5:20:25 PM

Are we doing okay, Northampton? I ask this as a mildly rhetorical question, but mostly out of concern, as one would to an ailing parent.

The “A” in the Calvin Theater has been restored, but elsewhere, beneath the surface, cracks in the ice are showing, indicating that things are not A-OK. I don’t have a ton of answers, but it’s clear something needs to change.

In the last half year, several famed local businesses have closed, while owners of others have admitted financial duress. Faces just disappeared unexpectedly. Sam’s Pizza shut its ovens for good. Hugo’s emptied their taps. Serio’s, The Elevens — these may all just be part of the natural economic Darwinism, but I think we’re about to see more.

Parts of downtown Northampton business life may yet see sunny days to come, but it will be through the actions of a few committed people, in spite of the obstacles in place. The town that eats like a city has many shops that people enjoy spending time in, like Faces, but not to purchase goods.

Northampton is not immune to the online shopping craze that has affected Sears and the shopping malls across the country. The bohemians can’t afford to live here. The artists have moved to Holyoke, Easthampton or somewhere else where rent is cheaper.

The people who have stayed and are on the city’s pay are not paid enough. As I write this, discontent in the school system is looming. Teachers and other staff are being paid below what they’re worth, while a surplus is being sat on.

A town/city that puts on a good face is seeing that Faces doesn’t stay forever. The canaries are dying in the coal mine. In many stories a common theme is “change or die.”

Maybe it’s time to ask Smith College to pitch in more. Maybe it’s time to start accruing some GDP and bring some businesses where people want to buy things, even if it runs contrary to the hippy vibe.

So I ask again, Northampton, are we doing OK?

Joseph Stankiewicz


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