The applicant behind opening a proposed recreational marijuana dispensary in the present location of Little Steve’s Pizzeria unveiled its plans during a community meeting Tuesday at the Hilton Boston Back Bay.
Todd Finard, a Greater Boston area native and CEO of Boston’s Finard Properties, outlined the proposed plans at this time to open the facility called Cypress Tree Management at 1114 Boylston St. with lifelong friends Victor Chaing, a hedge fund investor; Carlos Costeo, a construction safety manager; and Eric Liebman, who helped found the Boston-area Boloco fast food chain.
“We are all business people who have been investing for a long time,” Finard said. “We live here and we work here.”
Cypress Tree Management also plans to open another recreational cannabis dispensary in Newton, as well manufacturing and packaging facilities in Fitchburg and the southern part of the state, Finard said.
As for the current home of the pizzeria, which is slated to close this year after more than 50 years in business, the plan includes taking over the building’s first two floors and basement, which total 7,800 feet.
“This allows us all the room to ensure that we don’t have lines outside,” Finard said. “There will be an internal-self contained queuing system, as well as express pickup.”
(Some citizens in attendance expressed doubt, however, that this could be achieved on the days of concerts and events at Fenway Park.)
Upon entering the establishment, would-be customers would be asked for ID to validate they are of age using a state-of-the-art scanning device before taking their place in a virtual line. They would then we notified once their orders are available via text.
Rick Nagle, a former Massachusetts State Trooper the company has hired to oversee security, said this would take two forms – physical, which includes cameras and alarms; as well as less common “operational security,” which includes training employees and constantly making changes to help the operation run more smoothly.
As for possible mitigation for the neighborhood, the team has already to the Fenway Civic Association to ensure that local residents are given priority for hiring, and that the work force be diverse.
Finard said his team chose the proposed because of its easy accessibility to the MBTA Green line, several bus lines, ample parking and the heavy foot traffic already there, but this did little to alleviate the concerns of some in attendance.
Several clergymen from St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine at 1105 Boylston St. said prevalent smoking of marijuana was already a problem in the area and fear that the dispensary would exasperate the problem.
“There will be no smoking on site and in way, shape or form would we tolerate smoking outside the store and will ban offenders from the business,” Nagle responded. “We’re going to be very vigilant.”
Tim Horn, president of the Fenway Civic Association board of directors, said the proposed site is a bad location for a cannabis dispensary, adding that a nearby liquor store had closed amid community concerns. He also anticipates that smoking marijuana in the Fenway Victory Gardens. would become more commonplace with the dispensary’s opening.
In contrast, Kevin Crampton, a 35-year resident of Charlesgate East, expressed his strong support for the current location.
Addressing concerns that potent edible marijuana products could result in hospital visits for users, Jay Youmans, an attorney representing the applicant, said, “Any person who that happens to is one too many so this is something that we take very seriously.” He added that the product packaging would be clearly marked and sold in child-proof containers to keep them out of unintended hands.
The company will also launch a website so residents can reach out with their concerns and suggestions, including the location of a proposed pick-up and drop-off location, Youmans said.
Yissel Guerrero, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s liaison to the Fenway neighborhood, said the city would sponsor its official public meeting on the application April 29, when the team will attempt to address some of the community concerns they heard.
Meanwhile, Fenway resident Marie Fukuda expressed her frustration with what she described as the seemingly piecemeal approach to rolling out proposals for marijuana dispensaries to the community.
“I’m really frustrated with the process…and seeing these come one at time,” Fukuda said. “Because of the way the law is written, we don’t get that choice.”