The Pittsfield's Licensing Board's tough penalties on Lach's Lounge are appropriate, yet it is easy to understand members' skepticism that they will have an impact.
Things have been relatively quiet on the Pittsfield bar scene, in large part because of the welcome closings of some of the worst trouble spots. That peace ended with the shooting death two weeks ago of a patron shortly after he left the Fenn Street establishment.
Police Lieutenant Michael Grady emphasized at Wednesday's show-cause hearing requested by the police department that the request resulted from officers finding several intoxicated people who had been at Lach's Lounge, not because of the shooting, which is still being investigated. Owner Arthur Beattie Jr. said he was told that no one was overserved that evening but he was not on the site.
It was clear that Licensing Board members' dissatisfaction with the response of Lach's to a November 30 hearing following an October shooting incident linked to the bar led to the tough penalties. Lach's will be shut for a week, its hours curtailed for two months, the security cameras promised after the November 30 hearing must finally be installed, and at least one of the two owners must be on site, particularly during troublesome late hours.
That two businesses and good neighbors located near Lach's Lounge expressed unhappiness with finding a crime scene nearby last month when they opened for business is of major concern. This incident, and the findings of police, do not help Pittsfield's efforts to improve the reputation of downtown and draw people and businesses there.
Lach's has been put on notice. If it earns the skepticism of Licensing Board members that it will take seriously the need to reform its practices, the Board surely understands what must be done next.