Massachusetts primary election
If you did not vote early or mail in your ballot, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, for the Massachusetts primary election. Ward 1 residents will vote at the Jackson Street School.

The primary ballot lists candidates for governor; lieutenant governor; attorney general; secretary of state; treasurer; auditor; 2nd Congressional District; 8th District governor’s councilor; Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester Senate District; 1st Hampshire House District; Northwestern district attorney; and Hampshire County sheriff.

Cannabis dispensaries
Euphorium LLC, which proposes to open a marijuana dispensary in the Goodwin Block at 125 Main St., Florence, will hold a second community outreach meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park St. Organizers ask that questions be submitted ahead of the meeting to [email protected].

The meeting may be attended virtually via Google Meet at or by calling 316-413-5155‬ and using PIN ‪595 854 285‬.

A community meeting Aug. 15 attended by some 150 people lacked a sound system and the link to attend virtually did not work, prompting this second meeting.

This would be the first marijuana dispensary in Florence. There are currently 12 adult-use dispensaries operating elsewhere in Northampton (including two that also offer medical marijuana treatment). Two other host community agreements have been signed, including one for two separate sites.

Although the City Council does not have jurisdiction over host community agreements for specific marijuana establishments, it could place a cap on the number of dispensaries allowed in Northampton. In 2018, the City Council rejected a proposed cap of 10.

With some residents now calling for renewed consideration of a cap on cannabis dispensaries, I was among the city councilors at our Sept. 1 meeting who spoke in favor of studying the issue and encouraging public participation at several of our committees. I look forward to continuing that conversation in the coming weeks.

CPA money for St. John Cantius Church
The City Council on Sept. 1 voted unanimously to send to two of its committees an order that would appropriate $500,000 from Community Preservation Act funds for exterior repairs to the former St. John Cantius Church at 10 Hawley St. If approved, the CPA appropriation would include a permanent historical preservation restriction for as long as that building stands.

Both the Northampton Historical Commission and the Community Preservation Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the $500,000 sought by the O’Connell Development Group of Holyoke to repair the exterior and preserve the church building, which it will re-use for market-rate rental housing. About two-thirds of that amount – $335,737 – would be taken from a CPA account that can be used only for historic preservation projects.

The Historic Structure Report prepared as part of the city’s review of the project describes St. John Cantius Church, which was dedicated in 1913, as “a contributing structure located … on the corner of Hawley Street and Phillips Place within the Pomeroy Terrace Historic District in Northampton. The site has a significant connection to Polish immigrant history and the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.”

Some residents have criticized the use of CPA money for a private development that does not include affordable housing, and questioned whether there are other sources of money to preserve the former church building.

I expect that the Finance Committee, on which I sit, will hear from the public and discuss the appropriation during its next meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 21. The order also will be considered by the Community Resources Committee before it returns to the full City Council for a vote, no earlier than Oct. 6.

The Community Preservation Committee file for the St. John Cantius Church application is available here:

737 Bridge Road and 196 Cooke Ave.
The City Council voted unanimously Sept. 1 to amend the zoning map by expanding the Urban Sustainable Growth Overlay District to include 737 Bridge Road and 196 Cooke Ave.

That allows the city to receive state money for each unit of affordable housing built on those sites. Valley Community Development Corp. of Northampton proposes to redevelop the former nursing home at 737 Bridge Road into 60 units of affordable housing. The city owns the former Moose Lodge property at 196 Cooke Ave. and will work with a partner to develop up to four units of affordable housing.

Taste of Northampton
The Taste of Northampton returns from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, on Main Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic between Old South Street Street and King and Pleasant streets.

Local restaurants will showcase food and beverages, and there will be live music throughout the event sponsored by the City of Northampton and the Downtown Northampton Association.

A list of participating restaurants, vendors and musicians is available here:

DoozyDo Parade
Northampton Neighbors will sponsor the first DoozyDo Parade in Northampton at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, stepping off from the Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley St. and ending near the Academy of Music on Main Street.

Organizers describe it as “a joyful, inclusive, unconventional celebration in – and of – the City of Northampton, featuring people of all ages, local organizations, and businesses.” It will be led by “grand-ish marshals” Bill Dwight and Kelsey Flynn.

The event will raise awareness and money for Northampton Neighbors, a volunteer organization that provides programs and services to help seniors remain independent and stay engaged with the community.

Information about joining the parade is available here: