Mayor, Town Council Face Off Over Legalized Marijuana in West Springfield | Connecting Point

Mayor, Town Council Face Off Over Legalized Marijuana in West Springfield | Connecting Point


AN ATTEMPT TO BRING RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
TO WEST SPRINGFIELD WAS BLOCKED BY ITS TOWN
COUNCIL LAST NIGHT.
MARIJUANA BECOMES LEGAL FOR ADULTS 21 AND
OLDER IN MASSACHUSETTS ON JULY 1ST BUT INDIVIDUAL
CITIES AND TOWNS HAVE THE FINAL SAY ON THE
ISSUE.
AND THE WORD FROM WEST SPRINGFIELD COUNCILORS
WAS NO.
BUT MAYOR WILLIAM REICHELT HAD VETOED THE
COUNCIL’S INITIAL VOTE, WHICH BROUGHT US TO
LAST NIGHT’S SPECIAL MEETING.
AND THAT’S WHERE THE COUNCIL OVERRODE THE
MAYOR’S VETO 8 TO 1.
COUNCILOR BRIAN GRIFFIN WAS AMONG THOSE WHO
BLOCKED THE VETO.
THE PREPONDERANCE OF THE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE
COME BEFORE US OR REACHED OUT TO US HAD ISSUE
WITH THE WITH THIS.
HAVE SAID TO US THAT WE SHOULD OVERRIDE THE
MAYOR’S VETO.
THAT TO COUNCIL EGERS POINT IS WHAT WE ARE
HERE TO DO.
BUT A NO VOTE MIGHT NOT MEAN NO FOREVER.
LET SOME NEIGHBORING COMMUNITIES WORK OUT
THE BUGS ASSOCIATED WITH THE START.
IF THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS WE CAN CHANGE THE
ORDINANCE AT WILL.
>>FOR A LOOK AT BOTH SIDES OF
THE ISSUE, TOWN COUNCILOR GEORGE
KELLY AND MAYOR RIECHELT SPOKE
WITH ME IN THE STUDIO.
>>BACK IN 2016 AFTER THE
ORIGINAL VOTE WE PUT A TWO-YEAR
MORATORIUM IN PLACE UNTIL
DECEMBER OF 2018.
SO SIX MORE MONTHS PRETTY MUCH.
AND THE IDEA BEHIND THAT, MY
THINKING AND IN OUR DISCUSSIONS
WERE TO SPEND TIME UNDERSTANDING
THE ISSUE, SEEING WHAT THE STATE
WAS GOING TO DO FOR RULES AND
REGS AND SEE HOW THAT WOULD FIT
IN AND SEE WHAT OTHER
COMMUNITIES ARE DOING AS WELL.
SO MY THOUGHT WAS AFTER JUST ONE
PUBLIC HEARING WASN’T ENOUGH
TIME TO REALLY DIGEST ALL THE
ISSUES AND HAVE A GOOD
DISCUSSION ON IT.
IF WE COME TO THE POINT OF WE’RE
GOING TO BAN IT, THAT’S FINE,
BECAUSE WE CAN ALWAYS ADJUST
BANNING SALES BUT ALLOWING
CULTIVATION AND TESTING.
WE HAVE EMPTY INDUSTRIAL SPACE.
I THINK WE JUST NEED MORE
DISCUSSION.
THAT’S WHATOAL WAS.
>>SO COUNCILOR KELLY, LET ME
BRING YOU INTO THIS.
THE COUNCIL VOTED 8-1 SAYING NO,
YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA IN WEST
SPRINGFIELD.
WHY?
>>MAINLY THE VOTERS, THE PEOPLE
DO NOT WANT IT.
EVEN AFTER THE MAYOR’S TWEETS
AND ONLINE PRESENCE, IT’S
RUNNING SIX TO ONE IN OUR COUNT
AGAINST RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.
WE EMBRACE MEDICAL MARIJUANA,
BUT WE DO NOT WANT RECREATIONAL.
I BELIEVE THAT THE MAYOR AND THE
COUNCIL SHOULD HAVE VETTED THIS
ISSUE MUCH MORE.
AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE MAYOR
WAS THINKING WHEN AN ISSUE LOST
8-1 AND HE DECIDED TO VETO IT.
>>MASSLIVE REPORTED THAT THE
VOTE IN 2016 WAS CLOSE, IT WAS
50% WHO VOTED TO BAN
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA, 47% WHO
DIDN’T.
AND THEN 3% OF THOSE VOTES WERE
LEFT BLANK.
SO IF YOU TAKE THAT
3% COUNT, 3% BLANK, YOU’RE
RUNNING ABOUT NECK AND NECK ON
THIS ISSUE.
>>ABSOLUTELY.
PEOPLE SAY HEY, I VOTED AGAINST
LEGALIZATION, BUT IT’S LEGAL NOW
SO WHY WOULD WE GIVE UP THE
OPPORTUNITY TO ALLOW NEW
BUSINESS TO COME TO SPRINGFIELD.
WE HAVE 90 AND 91 COME THROUGH,
TWO VERY BUSY RETAIL CORRIDORS
AND A LOT OF SPACE THESE PLACES
COULD BENEFIT FROM ON THE
OUTSKIRTS OF OUR COMMUNITY.
SO
ESPECIALLY WITH THE VOTE BEING
SO CLOSE AND IT BEING TWO YEARS
AGO, IF WE WANT TO GET TO A
DISCUSSION AND SAY WE’RE GOING
TO BAN IT FOR NOW, BUT LET’S PUT
IT BACK ON THE BALLOT AND VOTE
AGAIN, BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN TWO
YEARS AND OPINIONS CHANGE.
AND EVEN FROM MY ONLINE
PRESENCE, PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED
MORE ABOUT IT.
, THEY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THAT
THE STATE DOES THIS, AND IT
CAN’T BE NEAR A SCHOOL.
SO WE BENEFIT FROM MORE DISCUSS.
BUT ALSO, IF A COUNCIL IS MAKING
A DECISION ON THE 2016 VOTE,
THAT’S FINE, BURR IT SHOULD GO
BACK ON THE BALLOT AGAIN.
THIS IS A BIG BUSINESS THAT
WE’RE GOING TO ESSENTIALLY LOSE,
WHILE AT THE SAME TIME SAYING
THAT WE’RE BUSINESS FRIENDLY.
>>I DON’T THINK THE MAYOR
SHOULD HAVE VETOED IT.
I THINK THE MAYOR SHOULD COME IN
AND TALK TO EACH COUNCILOR
INDIVIDUALLY AND GOT WHAT WE’RE
THINKING ABOUT.
BUT BECAUSE WE’RE TWO PARTS OF
GOVERNMENT.
AND WE’RE A CHECK AND BALANCE ON
THE MAYOR.
AND IF THOSE CONVERSATIONS DON’T
OCCUR, AND I KNOW THAT THE
COUNTRY IS PLAGUED BY THEM NOT
OCCURRING IN WASHINGTON, BUT
WHEN THEY DON’T OCCUR LOCALLY
THAT’S A SAD POINT.
A 500 VOTE MARGIN IS NOT A CLOSE
VOTE.
I’VE RUN IN SEVERAL ELECTIONS
AND BEEN ELECTED IN SEVERAL
ELECTIONS, AND IF YOU LOSE A
VOTE BY 500 VOTES, IT’S NOT
CLOSE.
YOU WOULD NEVER EVER ASK FOR A
RECOUNT.
AND YOU’D NEVER GET ONE.
>>I HEAR BOTH SIDES KIND OF
SAYING THE SAME THING, WHICH IS
WE WANT TIME FOR MORE
DISCUSSION.
SO HERE WE ARE,
MONDAY AFTERNOON, YOU’RE
SCHEDULED TO VOTE ON THIS MONDAY
NIGHT, TONIGHT, IS THERE AN
OPPORTUNITY FOR THE COUNCIL TO
SAY WE’RE GOING TO TABLE THIS
ISSUE AND LET MORE DISCUSSION
TRANSPIRE?
>>REALLY THERE IS NOT, BECAUSE
WE HAVE 30 DAYS TO OVERRIDE THE
MAYOR’S VETO.
>>THEY CAN’T TABLE THE VETO.
BECAUSE IF THEY’VE TABLE THE
STREET, THEY RUN OUT OF TIME.
BUT, TO YOUR POINT, IT DOESN’T
MEAN THE DISCUSSION HAS TO END.
IT DOESN’T MEAN WE HAVE TO STOP
TALKING ABOUT RECREATION USE
MARIJUANA OR ADULT USE MARIJUANA
IN SPRINGFIELD.
BECAUSE WHAT THEY’VE DONE AT A
GENERAL ORDINANCE, IT ONLY —
THE COUNCIL WOULD HAVE TO HAVE
ANOTHER DISCUSSION TO PUT IT ON
THE BALLOT.
BUT THE REASON FOR THE VETO WAS,
I’M SAYING, MORE DISCUSSION HAS
TO HAPPEN.
AND MORE DISCUSSION HAS TO
HAPPEN WITH PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE
FACTS AND UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA IS.
THE SPRINGFIELD CITY COUNCIL
JUST CAME BACK FROM —
>>THEY DID A DENVER FACT
FINDING MISSION.
>>AND WE BENEFIT FROM HAVING
BOTH OUR SENATOR AND OUR STATE
REPRESENTATIVE, THAT REWROTE THE
LAW THAT WAS EVENTUALLY PUT IN
PLACE.
SO IN REALITY, WE VOTED
ON A DIFFERENT LAW IN 2016 THAN
WE HAVE NOW.
BUT WE HAVE FOLKS THAT ARE MORE
THAN HAPPY TO COME IN, THEY’VE
OFFERED TOURINGS OF THE
FACILITIES TO UNDERSTAND WHATS
THAT LOOK LIKE.
>>I HAVE FOUR GRANDCHILDREN IN
WEST SPRINGFIELD, THEY GO TO
WEST SPRINGFIELD SCHOOLS.
AND WE ARE NOT READY FOR THIS.
THIS WHOLE LEGISLATION CAME IN
BY THE BACK DOOR, BY A BALLOT
INITIATIVE.
AND IT WAS PASSED BY A BALLOT
INITIATIVE.
WHETHER IT WAS PASSED IN WEST
SPRINGFIELD, THE STATE
LEGISLATURE THOUGHT, IN THEIR
WISDOM, AND I’D LIKE TO THANK
REP FINN FOR ALL HIS WORK ON
THIS, AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE
THOUGHT THAT TOWNS THAT VOTED
AGAINST THE MARIJUANA LAW NEEDED
A BACK DOOR TO EXPRESS THE WILL
OF THE VOTERS.
AND THAT’S WHY WE’RE IN A
POSITION TO DO THAT.
>>WHEN YOU SAY BALLOT
INITIATIVE, YOU MEAN THE FACT
THAT THE MAYOR HAS SAID HE’D
LIKE TO BRING IN BACK TO THE
VOTERS?
>>THE LAW WAS CREATED BY A
BALLOT INITIATIVE.
>>CORRECT.
>>YES.
AND IT WAS PASSED BY A BALLOT
NIR —
INITIATIVE.
PEOPLE IN THE KNOW HAVE TOLD ME
THAT THAT IS NOT LIKE A LAW THAT
WAS CREATED BY THE LEGISLATURE
AS FAR AS CHANGING THAT BY
ANOTHER BALLOT.
>>THE STATE IS WORKING OUT THE
REGULATIONS AND IS IN THE
PROCESS OF PERMITTING CITIES AND
TOWNS, OR INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES
THAT WANT TO ESTABLISH A
BUSINESS.
>>WE DON’T HAVE ANY METHOD IN
PLACE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE STONED
OR HIGH OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO
CALL IT DOING RECREATIONAL
MARIJUANA, WE DON’T HAVE ANY
SAFEGUARDS IN PLACE TO KEEP THE
CANDIES, COOKIES, BROWNIES AND
GUMMY BEARS THAT WILL BE IN
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA OUT OF
THE HANDS OF CHILDREN.
>>SO, I THINK WHAT’S HAPPENING
IN CITIES AND TOWNS IS NOW THIS
IS WHERE CITIES AND TOWNS ARE
COMING IN AND SAYING, OKAY,
HERE’S HOW WE’RE GOING TO
REGULATE, TO YOUR POINT, WHETHER
IT’S THE USE OF EDIBLES OR
SMOKING DEVICES, ET CETERA.
MAYOR, WHAT I THINK I’VE HEARD
YOU SAY IS YOU ARE INTERESTED IN
WEST SPRINGFIELD IN POSSIBLY
LOOKING AT THIS ISSUE AS AN
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
OPPORTUNITY.
BECAUSE IF WE LOOK AT
SPRINGFIELD THERE’S A
MORATORIUM, AGAWAM THERE’S A
MORATORIUM THERE AS WELL.
CHICOPEE AND HOLYOKE HAVE SAID
THEY’RE IN ON THIS.
AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
PERSPECTIVE, TWO OF FOUR
COMMUNITIES AROUND YOU HAVE
ALREADY SAID YES, THEY WANT TO
MOVE FORWARD ON THIS ISSUE.
SO WHEN YOU’RE APPROACHING IT AS
AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
OPPORTUNITY WHAT DO YOU SEE
THERE?
>>LIKE I SAID BEFORE, THE FACT
THAT WE BENEFIT SO MUCH FROM
BEING A RETAIL HUB, WE HAD ONE
OF THE FIRST HOME DEPOTS AND
COSTCO.
WHEN I GREW UP HERE, IT’S ALWAYS
BEEN FIVE MINUTES FROM WHEREVER
YOU WANT TO GO.
WE BENEFIT FROM THAT IN THAT
IT’S EASY TO PLACE RETAIL HERE
BECAUSE IT’S EASY TO GET TO.
SO MOST OF THE COMMUNITIES
AROUND US ARE HEADING THAT WAY,
BUT STILL WHEN FOLKS LOOK AT
WEST SIDE THEY SAY WE’VE GOT TO
BE THERE BECAUSE WE KNOW THERE’S
THIS AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC ON THE
ROADS, IT’S EASY TO GET TO, AN
EASY SPOT TO BASE A RETAIL
PLACE.
>>HAVE YOU HEARD FROM WOULD-BE
VISITORS WHO SAY I SEE AN
OPPORTUNITY IN WEST SPRINGFIELD,
WE’D LIKE TO COME AND LOOK AT
SOME SPACE?
>>WELL, ITER ON WE DID.
BUT AFTER THE COUNCIL VOTED
THEY’VE KIND OF LAPSED.
BECAUSE HOLYOKE IS VERY IN FAVOR
OF IT.
CHICOPEE IS WORKING TOWARDS IT.
SO IS WESTFIELD, SO THEY’RE
LOOKING TWORDLE OTHER PLACES
NOW.
BUT WE STILL HAVE THE
OPPORTUNITY, AND WHETHER OR NOT
THE SALES WOULD JUST BE
MANUFACTURING, WE HAVE HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS OF SQUARE FEET OF
EMPTY INDUSTRIAL SPACE THAT
COULD BENEFIT FROM IT.
>>IF I COULD GET IN ON THIS,
I’D REALLY LIKE TO.
WE HAD A VOTE IN WEST
SPRINGFIELD ABOUT HARD ROCK
CASINO.
I WAS THE ONLY COUNCILOR THAT
GOT UP AND SPOKE IN FAVOR OF
PUTTING HARD ROCK CASINO IN THE
BACK OF THE BIG E.
I SAID WHEN IT GOES TO
SPRINGFIELD, WHICH LOOKED LIKE
IT WAS GOING TO GO, WE’LL BE
8,000 YARDS OFF OF WEST
SPRINGFIELD.
WHAT WAS AT STAKE FOR THE WEST
SPRINGFIELD GOVERNMENT, AT THAT
POINT IN TIME, WARS
$18.5 MILLION ANNUALLY, MINIMUM.
AND THE VOTERS TURNED THAT DOWN.
THE VOTERS HAVE PREVIOUSLY
TURNED DOWN A RACETRACK, AND I
KNOW THAT’S PROBABLY 30 YEARS
AGO.
>>HOW DO YOU SEE THESE
CONNECTING TO THE USE OF
MARIJUANA?
>>I THINK COMPARED TO WHAT
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA WOULD BE
TAXED AT WOULD BE CHUMP CHANGE.
IT’S NOT GOING TO BE VERY MUCH
MONEY.
MIGHT BE A MILLION, MIGHT BE TWO
MILLION, BUT I DON’T THINK IT
WILL BE NEARLY THAT, BECAUSE
THERE’S MANY OTHER CITIES AND
TOWNS SELLING IT.

1 thought on “Mayor, Town Council Face Off Over Legalized Marijuana in West Springfield | Connecting Point”

  1. Nice idea to keep West Springfield “clean”. Ms. Saldo’s liberal agenda as an interviewer leaks through yet another interview.

    Money (eg economic development, taxation) is not a reason to legalize pot any more than it is to legalize gambling, prostitution, or other drugs.

    Let your neighbor’s take the pot, increase their crime, increase their homeless and impoverished population, reduce their property values. The more your neighbors accept vices to increase a liberal-spending tax base, the more West Springfield becomes a desirable place to invest, live, and work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *