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Andrew Square residents, officials don't want late-night pizza at Old Colony rotary, but they don't want a pot shop there, either; one suggests a nice ice-cream shop or coffee place instead

Current Supreme House of Pizza

From Supreme House of Pizza to Simplicity Dispensary?

A North Grafton man's proposal to turn the decrepit and now closed Supreme House of Pizza at 313 Old Colony Ave. in South Boston into a modern recreational-marijuana shop met with heavy opposition at a community meeting this evening - just a day after the owner of the pizza place withdrew his application to deliver pizza until 2:45 a.m. on weekends.

The Andrew Square and City Point civic associations, City Councilors Ed Flynn, Michael Flaherty, Erin Murphy and Frank Baker all opposed the proposed Simplicity Dispensary, along with state Sen. Nick Collins. The Gavin Foundation, which runs treatment programs in the area, also came out strongly against the proposal.

Opposition focused on the fundamentally unsafe nature of the rotary the shop would be on, the fact that tons of kids pass the spot to and from the park, the beach, church and preschool, the presence of people with addiction issues that would be enticed to buy a gram or two and the existing spillover from Mass and Cass of stumbling drug users and serious drinkers.

The shop "would only increase problems in this area," an aide to Collins said.

Colonel Boothe, though, said his Simplicity Dispensary would make the block, already known as a neighborhood trouble spot and hangout for drug and alcohol abusers far safer and attractive, certainly much more so than the current ramshackle building that houses what was until recently Supreme House of Pizza, along with a liquor store and a check-cashing place.

He said he and his partners would invest $1.3 million renovating the space - for which he said he was already paying rent - and would work with the building owners to spruce up the rest of the building. He said that in addition to the security cameras the city would require him to install, he would install additional cameras on the plaza-like space in front of the building.

Boothe:

Boothe

Referring to the people who now congregate in front of and near the stores drinking and tossing trash around, he said, "once we are operating, we will put a stop to that in our area."

He said the three shops would share ten parking spaces and said he expects his business to primarily come from the surrounding neighborhood, not from people from away getting lost and futilely trying to navigate the rotary.

Still, he said he would station a worker on the street at busy times to shoo away anybody trying to double park on Old Colony or even in the rotary itself. He added he hopes to start a courier service for home deliveries, which would further reduce any possible traffic and parking issues.

He added that windows would have frosted glass to keep kids from peering inside - and that, in any case, his staff would bar entry to anybody under 21.

Boothe said South Boston is currently underserved by cannabis shops and that he is aiming to open the shop by June. To do so, he'll need a "host community agreement" with the Boston Cannabis Board, approval of the Zoning Board of Appeal and signoff by the state Cannabis Control Commission.

But few people on the Zoomed meeting bought his arguments.

Bill Bailey of the City Point Neighborhood Association said his neighborhood is already plagued with hordes of people who have marijuana delivered to the beach and then spend the night "passing out and urinating" throughout the neighborhood.

"We don't want it in City Point, we don't want it in Andrew Square, we don't want it in the neighborhood, we are dead set against it," Bailey said.

Also, some residents said, they don't care what pot shops say - marijuana is a gateway drug.

Dave Decourcey of the Gavin Foundation said the foundation is "adamantly opposed" to the shop because of the temptation it would mean for the "very vulnerable population of people in Gavin programs within a few blocks of the site.

Andrew Square Civic Association President Linda Zablocki said she voted for legalized marijuana, but that the specific location is just wrong. She said Boothe can talk all he wants about trying to improve the block or the rotary but her group has been trying for years with no success.

Zablocki:

Zablocki

Roger Danchik, who lives next to the building, said his yard is constantly filled with trash left over from the neighborhood vagrants - whom he said sometimes make it difficult for him to just get inside his house because they sit on his steps.

"I do not need potheads around, and it's not because I'm not used to pot," he said. "I was a rock and roll roadie for 10 years and I'm very used to it."

Mary Moore held photos up to her camera of people loitering in front of the current shop - and of a gaggle of children walking by it. She said no matter how nicely Boothe renovates his space, it would still be "a business with a secretive and highly securitized feel to it."

She told Boothe it was time to think of the children, that "we deserve a business and location that is welcoming and inviting and fun for the whole community, including the kids," she said. "Something fun - an ice cream shop or a coffee shop."

Imagine if that were a pot shop all those kids were walking by:

Children

Dr. Bita Zahedi, however, criticized elected officials who said the shop would worsen already bad conditions at the rotary - if they're so concerned, she asked, why haven't they been doing anything earlier? At least Boothe has presented "the first proposal I've ever seen to improve the corner," one that "at a minimum [would bring] some level of security to this corner."

Neighborhoods: 

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Comments

Here we have a highly respected organization, the Gavin Foundation, that is fighting to support people in recovery that is against the idea of siting a pot shop here.

If we don't listen to them, how can we expect to improve the lives of Bostonians?

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Voting closed 46

Gateway drug claims are drug warrior BS. Those claims are not rooted in science they are rooted in anti-drug propaganda from an era of prohibition that resolutely failed to address substance abuse and in many ways made it demonstrably worse. Those claims are not worthy of respect even if the rest of the work they do is worthwhile (although them framing this like that certainly makes me doubt that).

Prohibitionist attitudes often undergird these “recovery” programs and like most of them Galvin is highly secretive about the number of people who actually have “recovered” through their program (likely in part because these dominant methods notoriously do not actually work). You can see those attitudes very clearly here, in acting as if the effects of marijuana and opioids are comparable or that consumption of the former inherently leads to the latter, which has been consistently disproven by reality. There are other groups doing important work to address the harms of substance abuse without stigmatization, treating addicts like children, and peddling in discredited propaganda from the drug war that we should listen to like the New England users union, Project Trust, and RIZE.

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Voting closed 50

Be warned that their vehemently anti-weed sentiment is often rooted in the cult-like recovery atmosphere of many AA programs that flourish (and to some extent prey on those) in the area. LOTS of these "sobah homes" are scams and/or covers for illicit activity.

And as far as the surrounding community, I'll believe neurologists and scientists over "some residents" who disagree about what is or isn't a "Gateway Drug".

But we were in Southie for years and for one, Linda is not a NIMBY. She lives nearby but not "next door" like some nosy busybody. And she speaks for many rational people who live there. Legal weed done properly could be a much needed economic boost to the Triangle. If it's done right.

But this business should not have made it past the "hey, i got an insane idea" stage.

So a big LOL to the guy already paying rent. You have no idea the fury you're about to unleash if you press forward.

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Voting closed 29

Bullshit anonymous comments are bullshit. Nobody fighting a heroin addiction is turning to weed, and if they were, that would be a marked improvement. In truth, nothing but more opioids will satisfy their urges, nor would they be spending $40 on an eighth of weed when that buys 2 pills or 4 baggies of heroin. It fails the common sense test on every level.

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Voting closed 63

Perfectly honest anons shall rule the world

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Voting closed 10

...magoo stench.

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Voting closed 10

Years ago I helped a friend kick a nasty Vicodin habit and ease symptoms by small dosing MJ during withdrawals instead of over the counter stomach medicine and prescribed anti anxiety meds.

Don't be surprised if/when your ill-informed views are summarily dismissed.

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Voting closed 15

While anyone can express their opinion, I just wish that the Gavin Foundation and other outspoken pot shop opponents held liquor dealers to the same standard as pot shops (strict oversight, high taxes, no postings etc.)

Why? "Worldwide, alcohol misuse and dependence are responsible for 3.3 million deaths per year, 10 times the number of fatalities from all illicit drugs combined."

Source: www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html...

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Voting closed 42

"The lethal dose of marijuana is a brick dropped on your head from a tenth-story window."
--Traditional (in some circles)

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Voting closed 3

Adam was too much of a coward to approve my other comment but these neighborhood groups are just a way for senior citizens to halt progress. Oh children will walk by it, yeah, they walk by the liquor store right next door too but your fully stocked liquor cabinet and fridge full of budweiser says that's ok. You want to clean up the area? Have the "blue lives" you fawn over do their damn jobs and move people along.

Oh and maybe they can have the Gavin Foundation tell their patients to stop selling their suboxone out there, that should cut down on traffic a little.

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Voting closed 35

"Also, some residents said, they don't care what pot shops say - marijuana is a gateway drug."

This is a statement roughly equivalent to "Some residents said they don't care what pot shops say - the sky is green, two plus two is five, and Donald Trump was a good president."

I also have my suspicions that a new packie in the neighborhood, where the locals can buy harmless liquor, might have passed without the slightest ripple.

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Voting closed 28

- Having a late-night business operating (the pizza proposal) would probably improve security in the area, just by having more eyes on the street. If it's already a Sacklerville overflow zone, this is valuable, and the extra noise from drivers might be worth it.

- Pot dispensary does like a bad choice there -- because there's already a mild stigma around it, and siting it near actual down-and-out addicts would just increase the chance of more stigma for *other* dispensaries. (I don't use pot, but I'm in favor of legalization, and I guess I'd like to see it succeed so I can say told-you-so, it's not a problem.)

- What the hell is up with this church & school nonsense? Shall all restaurants near churches and schools stop serving alcohol as well?

- If they want there to be a café or ice cream shop there, maybe they should open one.

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Voting closed 21

Walking, riding, driving. It doesn't matter.

Even on the clearest of days that spot will see a dozen "brushes with death/dismemberment" well before noon.

But late night would be a nightmare. Morrissey would end up being a drag strip, leading to the congregating while drunk. Then comes the violence.

Late night options are desperately needed but you quite literally could not pick a worse location than this.

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Voting closed 18

I don't know the area.

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Voting closed 6

for a coffee shop or an ice cream shop. If the concerns of those opposed are traffic safety related, I can't imagine suggesting an ice cream shop would be a safer alternative.

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Voting closed 6

Churches and schools have abused more young children than cannabis ever will.

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Voting closed 27

Of all the numerous arguments made last night, nobody argued that Jesus hates pot. It's more that one nearby church in particular runs AA and NA groups, which gets into the gateway-drug thing, but it's not just the presence of God's House nearby.

As for kids, in fact, the law (not sure if state law or city ordinance) requires a 500-foot buffer between a marijuana establishment and a school. There are no schools within 500 feet of the proposed location; Moore acknowledged that, but said the store is on a major route taken by kids to/from Moakley Park, the beach, etc.

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Voting closed 16

Jesus would have volunteered with the needle exchange if there had been one in ancient Judea.

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Voting closed 3

"Andrew Square Civic Association President Linda Zablocki said she voted for legalized marijuana, but that the specific location is just wrong."

This is the definition on NIMBY, and I hear this comment at every proposed location of a marijuana shop in Boston. If people didn't want legalized marijuana, they shouldn't have voted yes.

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Voting closed 36

You're 100% wrong here.

We were all cool with MJ. Just nobody wants it there.

And the people on the Civic Association don't even live at that rotary so your nimby accusation falls flat.

Church and children aside, it's an EXTREMELY dangerous rotary. And if people who aren't familIar with the traffic flowbsuddenly start descending on the area, it's gonna have deadly results.

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Voting closed 18

I'm used to the Holy Name Rotary in West Roxbury; even crossed it on foot numerous times.

I was curious about the building in question, after writing about the failed late-night pizza request and then hearing about the cannabis shop like 30 minutes later, so drove up to South Boston yesterday (hence the photo at the top of the story).

The Old Colony Rotary? Holy Name times 10.

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Voting closed 29

Why is the solution to such a dangerous rotary business licensing? If it were an ice cream shop or cafe as desired, would that not also cause people to "descend" on this dangerous rotary to go to the cafe? To make it extra safe we should just make sure there are no businesses at all nearby, destroy the sidewalks, expand the asphalt, and ensure that cars are the only thing allowed in the area I guess.

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Voting closed 15

That doesn't make her a NIMBY. The location in question is on a major traffic rotary, between two housing projects, directly across the street from a church, and diagonally opposite one of the largest parks in the region.

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Voting closed 21

There are two locations of cannabis shops proposed near me in the South End. Here are the reasons why both of these locations are "not appropriate" according to neighbors:

- There are residents in the same building
- We don't want people smoking outside
- People will double park
- It will generate too much car traffic
- This area is too busy already
- There are families nearby

Now keep in mind that both of these proposals are in storefronts in mixed use buildings (ground floor retail with residential above) that have had businesses in them for many years (including a restaurant that served alcohol and an eye glass shop, which apparently when they were open for many years generated zero traffic and no activity).

I can come up with a laundry list of reasons why any location in Boston is "inappropriate." It's a bunch of BS because some folks just don't want any cannabis shops anywhere near them.

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Voting closed 21

I never understood the "right across from a church" argument. Like why would that be any different than right across from any other place?

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Voting closed 5

Anyone telling you that they will station a worker to "shoo away anybody trying to double park" in South Boston has never been to Southie. Double parking is a way of life here and while delivery drivers and construction makes it even worse, there is no sign that the practice is abating nor that it's being policed by the competent authorities.

On the subject of the location itself, it's as rundown and unappealing as the neighbors would make it out to be and I'm not surprised they'd be against a weed store going in there. I would be too and to note, South Boston currently does not host a cannabis outlet and opposition to one in the neighborhood is pretty strong. It's not an underserved market for recreational substances of any kind and the good people of Andrew Square have to put up with enough already.

Also, as far as the mentioned elected officials go, I'm not sure they do anything other than measure which way the wind blows and in this case they've correctly concluded that pot shops in Southie are very unpopular with the electorate. They'll tolerate a dingy liquor with a checkered past, the worst convenience store slash check cashing outlet this side of Mars and a greasy pizza joint fronting as something else, but not a marijuana dispensary. They have no solutions to anything, coffeeshops and nostalgic ice cream parlor aside, but they know what's not going in the neighborhood.

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Voting closed 22

Double parking is a way of life here

Heck, triple parking is normal in some parts of Southie.

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Voting closed 14

The only thing that would be a good fit is a police station.

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Voting closed 16

Is people hanging around outside pot shops and smoking outside an issue at other shops? One opened two buildings down from me with little fan fare, and I do see cars parked in their lot (which they cleaned and resurfaced) but no one is ever congregating outside. Not sure though if this is just because everyone already has their favorite spots on Dot Ave staked out and doesn't want to move to Freeport, or if it's because this is a fantasy in the minds of pot opponents.

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Voting closed 12

But that specific location, yes, but only because it's already an issue.

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Voting closed 11

Folks are already there and hanging around the liquor store, I guess I'm skeptical that a dispensary would make things much worse at the typical price points those places have, but I honestly don't have any real data to make a guess with.

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Voting closed 11

I just moved from the MEMc over to the senior building in Anne Lynch homes .
I've been going to the store for the past 12 years since I moved back in MEMc and Surpeme pizza since it was on I and Broadway .
The people that hang in the rotary are most addicted or drunk . I've always been fearful of going there but , I don't have a choice . its the closest store to me .
They're always asking for money or food .
The last thing that area needs is a pot shop
I'm not against it , I rather my kids smoke then do hard drugs . they've watched most of their friends pass a way OD , relapse and then die .
I've seen moms have break downs from either worry or death of their child or children .
Lynda Zanblocki your building a multi million dollar condo with your roof deck .
And don't think you have another BS down your neighborhood to worry about .

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Voting closed 3