---- — To the editor:
I just got home and read the paper. Wow, I cannot believe it that the mayor and the City Council of Haverhill are considering placing a marijuana dispensary so close to a residential neighborhood that is struggling to revitalize itself. I am feeling sick to my stomach right now. You see, I live within a stone’s throw of Hale Street. I believe that placing a dispensary here will prove to be a dreadful thing for those of us who live close-by and especially for the Acre section of this city in general.
I know this neighborhood and I can tell you that around here there are problems and some hope. The problems you know about, which are regularly highlighted in the local newspapers. Living in this area are more drug-dependent persons than you will find in almost any other city in this state. Assaults and domestic violence are regular occurrences. We have more than our share of poverty, theft, mental health issues and unemployed disenchanted youth.
I know that the Hale Street is zoned for industrial purposes but in reality it is so close to residential property that daily we are very much aware of the smells and sounds of what is going on there. The Hale Street area comprises only a small strip of land between the railroad tracks and our houses. Yes, I am thinking about property values which are already at rock bottom in the Acre. But it is so much more than that.
Let’s help return the Acre to what it was referred to when it was being built, over 100 years ago: “God’s Green Acre.” That is where I live and that is where a lot of us who reside here spend our efforts trying to create and maintain.
Mayor Fiorentini and the City Council’s efforts to make Haverhill’s neighborhoods better places to live have mostly been excellent in the past. I believe that they know what is important in a city, such as trees and cleanliness and revitalizing unused properties. But elected officials are missing the boat here. Ignoring and denigrating our inner-city neighborhoods will put everyone in Haverhill at risk when instead we should be forward thinking and proactive with our efforts and resources as we create a much more desirable place for all families who live here to thrive. We must focus on things that will strengthen our inner city not put it in jeopardy.