JEERS to the impulse of some Haverhill city councilors, thankfully short-lived, who are still dissatisfied with a local vote to allow retail marijuana sales and appeared ready to ask voters to reconsider.
The council, while considering where to allow commercial pot shops to open, was prepared a couple of weeks back to talk about a citywide vote essentially asking citizens if they were serious in November 2016 when 55 percent supported allowing retail weed in Massachusetts.
Though part of a wider statewide referendum that green-lighted retail marijuana sales, the local results were significant because they blocked Haverhill leaders from banning sales in the city without another vote in that direction.
The retail marijuana law and its implementation have been fraught, to say the least. And the wisdom of allowing it in the first place remains debatable. Even more odious is the idea that elected leaders can keep queuing up a vote until they get the results they want.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, who put the item on a City Council agenda last month, apparently thought better of it before a proposal for a new vote could gain much footing. At least five other councilors were aligned against the idea.
It’s interesting that while all of this has been going on, plans for a retail pot shop in Haverhill have continued to coalesce.
Caroline Pineau, proprietor of The Yoga Tree in Haverhill, has fashioned a business plan and is working her way through the regulatory thicket necessary to open a shop she hopes to call STEM. When that happens, it could be the only one in the Merrimack Valley.
As reporter Kiera Blessing described in Sunday’s Eagle-Tribune, Pineau's vision is for a high-end, highly secure specialty store that is more like a boutique for precious gems than your typical smoke shop. It hardly seems like the kind of establishment the anti-marijuana crowd have in mind when railing against its potential dangers.
Here's a CHEERS for the smaller details in a community that can make a huge difference -- especially when it comes to children’s safety.
Haverhill recently began work to repaint all 165 crosswalks throughout the city. The project began at the end of last month and is expected to last the rest of the summer.
The good news is the city is using a new paint, which is reflective and lasts longer, for the crosswalks downtown and closer to schools. The bad news is that the more durable paint costs more than three times as much as the regular variety, so the city is rationing supplies and will likely mark crosswalks in other areas with its usual supplies.
Either way, well marked crosswalks are certainly helpful for pedestrians — most especially families and children on their way to school. The important thing now is for drivers to pay attention, obey the law and yield to those standing in a crosswalk.
A final CHEERS go to the Lawrence YMCA which last week cut the ribbon on a renovated welcome center, community room and exercise room. The space, which was updated to highlight the character and details of the Lawrence Street building that dates to 1910, is the first installment of a $5.9 renovation of the Lawrence Y.
The most significant element of the project, still to come, will be an 8,000 square-foot glass wellness center where the squash and racquetball courts are now.
The Merrimack Valley YMCA — which includes the Lawrence Y and facilities in Methuen and Andover — has already raised $2.8 million toward the refurbished Lawrence facility. It calls the campaign “Here for Good.” Mayor Daniel Rivera, honorary chairman of the effort, said during a ceremony last week the result will eventually be a Y that will “shine like no other urban Y in any other urban city.”
And, indeed, it will represent a significant milestone in the relationship between the YMCA and the city. May the updated Lawrence Y serve the community for 108 years to come.