Easthampton earmarks hashish cash for roadwork, library, police contract bills

EASTHAMPTON – Turning left at the intersection of Ferry and Parsons Streets is not always recommended. If you slowly walk past the stop sign on Ferry Street, you will often come across oncoming traffic from Parsons Street.

However, future visibility could potentially be improved and rethought by raising funds from cannabis revenues in the city.

According to a report by City Auditor Hetal G, the city has more than $ 1.7 million in revenue in its cannabis impact fee stabilization fund for fiscal 2020 and 2021 from two of the city’s recreational cannabis retailers, INSA and The Verb is Herb, collected. Patel.

In addition to INSA at 122 Pleasant St. at Keystone Mill and The Verb is Herb at 74 Cottage St., the city’s retail locations include Liberty at 155 Northampton St. and Plesantrees at 195 Northampton St. Da Liberty and Pleasantrees in one Later on, when INSA and The Verb is Herb opened, their community fees cannot yet be issued by the city.

The city granted Apical Inc. a fifth special permit earlier this year. The retailer, which plans to operate under the name “Fyre Ants”, has not yet opened its store at 102 Northampton Street.

Under the terms of Easthampton’s five-year host community agreement with cannabis retailers, businesses are required to pay the city 3% of their annual sales. This income is paid into the Cannabis Impact Fee Stabilization Fund.

According to their agreement, these funds may only be used in areas “reasonably linked” to the effects of cannabis, said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. And traffic is an area that is affected by cannabis retail stores, she said.

“We keep getting various inquiries, such as building a dog park. We can’t do that. The funding must be in a reasonable proportion, ”said LaChapelle.

The wording of the statutes requires that the money from the community activity fee be used for education and public relations, public infrastructure and in planning, police and fire services.

One of the first requests for allocation from the cannabis stabilization fund came from city planner Jeff Bagg for $ 46,000 for preliminary design work related to the intersection of Parsons and Ferry Streets. The application was approved in October 2020 after a public hearing and approval from the city council. Any expenditure from the fund must be approved by the city council with a two-thirds majority.

“This has never been a great intersection, but with the impact of traffic on the city increasing exponentially, it’s a mess now,” LaChapelle said.

The Parsons and Ferry intersection project is one of several funds from the Cannabis Stabilization Fund.

Recently, the city council approved $ 30,000 from the Cannabis Stabilization Fund for resources and funds for the Emily Williston Memorial Library.

“The $ 30,000 will help ease the pressure on our foundation draw and it will focus on the day-to-day expenses. We look forward to any future collaboration with the city, ”said Elizabeth Appelquist, President of the Library Board, at a recent council meeting.

A request for $ 10,000 to fund additional library resources was also approved earlier this year.

In the largest disbursement from the Stabilization Fund, the City Council also approved $ 328,771.50 from the Cannabis Stabilization Fund for the additional cost of the police union contract for FY2022-24 and for the disbursement of Police Sgt.Bruce Nicol’s July 11th retirement.

There are currently four adult cannabis retail stores in Easthampton.

The council also approved $ 25,000 in funding to install pedestrian improvements on Route 10 – rectangular flashing lights.

The case file was allocated $ 50,000 from the fund, the legal services allocated $ 100,000, and the planning department allocated $ 97,000. The Fire Department / EMS was allocated $ 61,450 for their budget as demand for EMS from cannabis retailers increased. The Fire Department / EMS has also received allocations of $ 63,000, $ 4,900, $ 13,095.24, and $ 298,872.

“Even before we signed the agreements with the host community, the police, fire brigade, DPW and planning departments were inundated with requests and inspections (from these cannabis companies),” said LaChapelle.

In total, the council voted and approved funding requests of $ 1.45 million from the Cannabis Stabilization Fund. According to the December audit report submitted by Patel, the fund’s current balance is $ 568,978.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com