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Springfield to continue fight against AmazingNet’s adult viewing booths despite 2 recent court losses

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts – The city plans to renew its battle to shut down private video viewing booths at an adult store in downtown Springfield, despite two legal losses in recent months.

The business Amazing.net, at 486 Bridge St., had its entertainment license revoked last November, needed for the booths, but won a preliminary injunction in Superior Court in August, allowing the booths to reopen at least temporarily.

Springfield filed an appeal last month in Massachusetts Appeals Court, but the appeal was recently rejected based on being filed one day past the deadline, marking its second defeat.

City Solicitor Edward M. Pikula was undeterred Friday, saying he will file a motion in Superior Court this week, asking the court “to render a final judgment,” rather than keep the preliminary injunction in place.

“I think the neighborhood is rightly concerned that the location is a source of nuisance activities and potentially a threat to public health and safety,” Pikula said.

Former Mayor Charles V. Ryan, in revoking the license in November, said that police and zoning inspector reports showed the booths had prompted crime and lewdness in 2006.

Thomas Lesser, a Northampton lawyer representing Capital Video Corp., doing business as Amazing.net, urged the city to compromise rather than extend a costly legal battle.

“I was disappointed the city is unwilling to discuss a resolution of the matter,” Lesser said. “The business has always been agreeable to placing conditions on the license.”

Since the preliminary injunction was issued in late August, there has been no problems, Lesser said. Pikula agreed there has been no recent reports of problems.

The business has made improvements including a video camera and employees monitoring the booths, and improved lighting, Lesser said.

Not only did Ryan revoke the entertainment license in November, but he also denied a new license for this year. Under that decision, the store could remain open, but was not allowed to operate the booths, officials said.

Ryan stated in November that police and zoning inspector reports showed the booths had prompted crime and lewdness in 2006.

Lesser said with the appeal dismissed, “I would hope at this point instead of the city spending more money on legal fees, and perhaps ultimately paying for Capital Video attorney fees, it would negotiate a resolution.”

Capital Video is based in Cranston, R.I., and also operates an adult store at 135 King St., in Northampton, but that store does not have viewing booths.

In addition to the booths, the Springfield stores sell magazines, videos and sex toys.

Pikula said the temporary injunction is only in place until the end of this year, because the annual entertainment licenses will expire.

“We are awaiting the application for a license for next year,” Pikula said.

It was “unfortunate” that the city missed the deadline in filing its appeal by one day, Pikula said. He thought it was mailed in time, but it took longer than expected to be received, he said.

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