Armory Given Warning for License Violations

The venue could face another alleged violation sometime soon.

The Armory admitted to two license violations and received a warning. Another alleged violation is on the horizon. Credit: Patch.com
The Armory admitted to two license violations and received a warning. Another alleged violation is on the horizon. Credit: Patch.com
The Center for Arts at the Armory received a warning from the Somerville Licensing Commission Monday for license violations that occurred on April 20 and May 18.

"A warning is equivalent to a first violation," said Andrew Upton, chair of the commission, at Monday's meeting. A second violation could lead to a several-days suspension of the Armory's license to operate or serve alcohol, Upton said.

It seems The Armory will, in fact, face allegations of another violation, which is said to have occurred on May 31.

"Apparently there's another violation in the pipeline," Upton said.

Armory acknowledges violations

Alderman At-Large Bruce Desmond reported the violation on April 20, which occurred during a wedding. A caterer was preparing food and washing dishes outside the venue until 11 p.m. 

John Sullivan, an abutter, reported the May 18 violations, in which patrons were gathering outside. Sullivan said he also reported the alleged May 31 violations, in which guests at a wedding were drinking outside.

In a joint recommended disposition, The Armory accepted the facts of the April 20 and May 18 violations.

In addition to the warning, the joint recommended disposition restated a number of The Armory's license requirements, such that outside the venue cannot be used as a waiting area or a place to serve alcohol.

The Armory also agreed to have a police detail at all private functions that serve alcohol and aren't arts or culture events—in other words, at private functions like weddings and parties.

Adam Dash, an attorney for The Armory, said the venue has "cracked down on the caterers" who use the building for private events to make sure they comply with the rules. The caterer responsible for the April 20 violation was "blackballed," he said.

"It's not fair to the people at home," says abutter

Sullivan said he didn't feel The Armory was doing a good job making sure patrons arrived and left in an orderly fashion.

"They need to understand that it's not fair to the people at home" when events at The Armory disturb the neighborhood, he said.

He also told the commission, "I have 24 hour surveillance, plus I have portable cameras," and he would continue to monitor the venue to make sure it complies with the regulations.

Lea Ruscio, the interim executive director of The Armory, said after Monday's meeting, "We really are trying to improve our facilities and practices."

"There's great community support [for The Armory], but there's been a history of friction there with community abutters," she said.

Armory could easily be condos, says commission member

John McKenna, a member of the Licensing Commission, said he was supportive of The Armory, which he called "an experiment" because it's a unique space that serves as an arts venue and a function hall in a residential neighborhood.

However, when the venue receives three violations, "I'm going to vote to pull the license," he said.

"It could just as easily be six condominiums at The Armory [building] as The Center for Arts at The Armory," he said.


Joe Beckmann August 20, 2013 at 08:27 AM
Perhaps the abutters are related to those above 181 Washington Street? Or perhaps there's an "abutters' flue" going through the city? Oh, my, perhaps that's just a fantasy of class warfare? NIMBY-mania? or a kind of blind innocence that "things happen in cities, and this ain't no suburb." The Board of Aldermen should establish a special class of license that includes incentives for community collaboration: added hours for service activities, extra voices for neighbors and immediate abutters that give them - as well as the licensee - more freedom when they use their voices more carefully; and other incentives for collaboration. Too much of too many themes in this city are becoming adversarial, just as they should be becoming collaborative. How many neighbors ever use the Armory for weddings and birthday parties? Why not? No incentives! Why not lower prices for such neighbors?
Joe Beckmann August 20, 2013 at 08:29 AM
And, incidentally, any licensing board member that really thinks 6 condos are equivalent to a renewed 19th century meeting space ought not be on that board. Community spaces are community-building opportunities in what is otherwise an adversarial and mine-before-yours nastiness.
Somerville Home Owner August 20, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Well said Joe. I find it interesting that The Armory is getting citations, meanwhile there are plenty of other more important things that need attention in our city. Want to give citations to a business or resident, I can give you a list to start with.
Ron Newman August 20, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Could someone please introduce John Sullivan to a more healthy hobby than subjecting a beloved local cultural institution to "24-hour surveillance" ?
J Ward August 24, 2013 at 01:27 PM
I have supported the Armory in the past and definitely believe in it's mission, however the management is completely over their heads and ill equipped to run such an important organization. If the Armory is to survive it needs to first and foremost live up to it's promises to be a better neighbor. This will only happen when they employ competent professionals instead of the neophytes who are in place now.


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