WESTFIELD – The Legislative & Ordinance subcommittee on Sept. 30 approved an amendment to the Host Community Agreement between Heka, Inc., a marijuana business located on Sgt. T.M. Dion Way that has not yet opened, and the City of Westfield.
The amendment would allow Heka, Inc. to prepay for road repair and lighting and allow the city to accept the funding. The recommendation by the committee was sent to the City Council at its Oct. 1 meeting for a vote.
In the original agreement approved by the City Council and signed in 2017 by then-Mayor Brian P. Sullivan, the city was set to receive 3% of gross sales with an additional 1% earmarked for infrastructure.
A new agreement was negotiated and signed in March, 2019, after HEKA, Inc. had added adult use marijuana to its medical marijuana business plan, and changed from a nonprofit to a for-profit venture. The new agreement included a requirement that from the date signed, if they don’t open in two years, the agreement will be null and void, said William Onyski, chair of the Legislative & Ordinance Committee.
The 1% of gross sales from medical marijuana to be used for infrastructure is also in the new agreement. The original intent was to pay for the paving of Sgt. T.M. Dion Way once enough funds were raised to cover the cost.
The amendment currently being proposed would allow the company to pre-pay for the paving and for lighting, in hopes that the construction will be completed this fall for a Spring, 2021 opening.
Onyski said that City Engineer Mark Cressotti provided a quote in the amount of $151,459 for the road and $10,000 to put up street lights. He said the road is in poor shape, but not a priority for the city.
City Attorney Shanna Reed said the resolution being voted on also allows the city to accept the money. She said the rest of the agreement signed last year remains intact. “(This) doesn’t have any negative effect on the city,” Reed said.
Committee member Michael Burns asked if the $150,000 would cover the entire length from Southampton Road to the business, which he said seems low to pave the street. “I just want to make sure it’s done right,” he said.
The plan is to resurface the road with a shim and overlay, which is generally two inches of blacktop, Cressotti said after the meeting. He said to do it right takes a considerable amount of money, but Heka is paying for it. “It’s an expedient application to be done in preparation for their opening; not a long term fix,” he said.
“That road is definitely in rough shape. The state police is on the right just before his building,” Burns said.
“It’s also a positive for Life Flight helicopter, and for future businesses going in,” said Onyski, adding, “My feeling is it’s a benefit to the city and Ward 6 to get the road paved, especially sooner.”
The committee voted 3 to 0 to recommend the amendment to the full council at its Oct. 1 meeting.