No Parking: Pot Zone


town_meeting050514Over 900 Wakefield voters showed up at Monday’s opening Annual Town Meeting session to vote on a $3 million parking garage. Thursday night’s continued session opened with Article 3, the $79 million FY 2015 town budget.

Math has never been my strong suit, so my fitness to be a Town Meeting teller would probably be called into question. But by my calculations, there should have been 23,000 people in attendance Thursday. I was only off by 22,836. town_meeting051214Say what you will about Thursday’s dismal attendance, but at least the 164 voters who showed up managed to get through 18 articles without questioning anyone’s integrity.

After Monday night’s vote on the parking garage failed and Article 1 was indefinitely postponed, it looks like Brightview can go back to its original plan to build an assisted living facility without a parking garage. So those who worried about seeing the top of the assisted living building behind the garage will now get to look at all five stories from Main Street.

Speaking of unintended consequences, the one article that really might swell attendance at this coming Monday’s Town Meeting session beyond the normal 160 dedicated souls is the medical marijuana dispensary article.

marijuanaThe final article on the Town Meeting warrant, Article 27, seeks to limit where any future pot dispensary may be located in town.

A couple of years ago, Wakefield voters joined the rest of Massachusetts in buying the smoke and mirrors campaign of the medical marijuana movement and approved a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The medicinal pot advocates have since all but admitted that it was nothing but a foot-in-the-door ploy toward their true and ultimate goal of full legalization of pot for recreational use.

The Old Man & The BongGiven the local ballot success of the medical marijuana question, maybe the Article 2 proponents should have proposed a combined assisted living/parking garage/medical marijuana facility. The pot shop component might have appealed to the baby boomer demographic that is rapidly approaching assisted living age.

But no use crying over spilt bong water now. What’s done is done.

Among other things, Article 27 seeks to keep this “medicine” away from “any school, child care establishment or place where minors frequent.” No mention of assisted living facilities, so my idea could have worked. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20.

Since we are now all about “honoring” local election results, will Town Meeting vote down Article 27’s severe restrictions on medical marijuana facilities and allow a pot shop to locate in the downtown business district?

Suddenly, that rumored Dollar Store in the old CVS building doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

[This column originally appeared in the May 8, 2014 Wakefield Daily Item.]

Photo of Old Man & the Bong by Jack Zalium.

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