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FBMS FoodFest Tuesday At Hingham Shipyard

Father Bill’s & MainSpring will host its 23rd annual FoodFest fundraiser – featuring some of the South Shore’s top restaurants – on Tuesday, July 25, at the Hingham Shipyard.

The fundraiser will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at The Launch at Hingham Shipyard and Hingham Beer Works. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased online at helpfbms.org/foodfest.

Guests will be able to sample 40 of the South Shore’s most popular restaurants, bakeries and beverage distributors. Enjoy delicious samplings and stunning oceans views accompanied by live entertainment from District 21 and opportunities to participate in a silent auction, wine pull and raffle.

Seven Quincy establishments will participate in FoodFest: Bistro Chi & Kama Lounge, Fratelli’s Pastry Shop, Fuji at West of Chestnut, Ginger Betty’s Bakery, Montilio’s, Punjab Café, and the Fours Restaurant.

FBMS, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending homelessness in in Southern Massachusetts, hopes to raise $300,000 to close the 54 percent funding gap in its emergency shelters. The organization provides emergency and permanent housing, workforce development, and prevention services to about 5,000 individuals annually across the South Shore, including families with children.

“We’re truly blessed to have more than 90 corporate partners supporting FoodFest this year, helping ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities have a safe, supportive place to stay on any given night,” FBMS President and CEO John Yazwinski said.

Yazwinski will present Liz Kim, Arbella Insurance Group’s assistance vice president of claim and a longtime FBMS board member, with the Richard C. and Virginia A. Welch Dedicated Volunteer Award at Tuesday’s event.

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Quirk Mazda Plans Lauded

By SCOTT JACKSON

A proposal by local auto dealer Daniel Quirk to construct a new Mazda dealership at the corner of McGrath Highway and Brackett Street was well received during a Planning Board meeting.

Quirk is proposing to construct the new facility at 91 McGrath Highway and 5 Brackett St. Those properties – with a total area of 92,176 square feet – are currently home to a Quirk building and the former home of Yellow Cab, both of which will be razed to make way for the new dealership. The Quirk Mazda building on the opposite side of Brackett Street, next to Stop & Shop, will remain as is.

The proposed building would stand two stories tall with nearly 24,000 square feet of space inside and an 18,786 square foot footprint. The lot would include 142 parking spaces on site – 44 for vehicles on display, 36 for customers, 30 for employees and 32 for service/storage. There would be room for additional vehicles in the showroom inside the building.

The proposal went before the Planning Board Wednesday. Christopher Harrington, the attorney representing Quirk before the board, said the proposal would greatly improve upon the site by adding new underground utilities and stormwater drainage systems, reconfiguring the layout of the parking lot, and creating new landscaping – including the removal of invasive species along the Town Brook and planting native species along the river bank.

“The entire property will be new,” Harrington said. “The property is going to be greatly improved over existing conditions, with a redesigned parking layout and a parking lot that works properly with aisle widths and parking spaces sizes as required, all new pavement, landscaping, lighting, underground utilities and stormwater management.”

Ward 1 Councillor Margaret Laforest supported the project. She called the current property blighted and said the removal of the radio antenna atop the Yellow Cab building by itself would be a “major game changer” for the surrounding neighborhood.

Laforest, who previously hosted a community meeting on the proposal, also said Quirk and his design and engineering team went above and beyond what is required under the city’s code by proposing an entirely new stormwater drainage system on site and adding new landscaping, particularly replacing invasive species along the Town Brook with native ones.

“This is a project right on the gateway, the periphery of the downtown. It’s really important to the neighborhood,” Laforest said. “[Quirk] really has checked all the boxes of all the questions that we asked. We appreciate that his team has really reached out to us from the get go and worked with the neighborhood.”

Jeff Hynes, an Elm Street resident, said the Quincy Center Neighborhood Association is also behind the project.

“I can’t say enough about Mr. Quirk. If other businesses in the neighborhood were as good as him, it would be a better neighborhood,” Hynes said. “We fully support this.”

No vote was taken on the proposal Wednesday. Planning Director James Fatseas said the project is still undergoing review, but could be ready for the board to act on during its next meeting on either Aug. 9 or Sept. 13.

Harrington said he would prefer the board meet on Aug. 9 to review the proposal, which would allow Quirk to start demolition soon after Labor Day.

Because the project is located within a flood plain and on the banks of the Town Brook, it required approval from both the Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. The former approved the project June 7 and the latter did so on June 27.

The other item on Wednesday’s agenda was a continued public hearing on the proposal by the Massachusetts Budhi Siska Society for a new four-story, 10,000 square foot learning center at 54 Massachusetts Ave. and 15 Glenwood Way in Quincy Point. The applicant sought a continuance prior to the meeting and were granted it at the meeting. The project will be before the board again on either Aug. 9 or Sept. 13.

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Strip Mall Proposed For Tom O’Brien Site

By SCOTT JACKSON

A developer has proposed renovating a closed Quincy Point car dealership and opening a strip mall with four or five businesses in its place, including an urgent care clinic, cellphone store and bank.

FX/Harborlight is behind the plan to convert the former Tom O’Brien dealership at 479 Washington St. – at the corner of Southern Artery – into the strip mall. The existing building on site has 14,000 square feet of space inside, according to the city assessor’s online database, and sits on a 45,700 square foot lot. A portion of the existing building would be removed during renovations.

About 20 residents attended a community meeting on the plan Tuesday at the Fore River Clubhouse, and many were supportive of the concept but voiced concerns about traffic and other impacts. The project requires approval from the Planning Board before moving ahead.

The developer has tentative deals with two tenants to lease storefronts on site. The first is ConvenientMD, an urgent care clinic that would lease about 5,000 square feet of space, and the second is Verizon, who would open a wireless store to replace the one previously located at 480 Southern Artery.

Bob Harnais, the attorney for the developer, said the third storefront would likely be home to a bank. It would not be a full bank branch, however; Harnais said only mortgages and similar products would be offered on site, plus an ATM.

The remaining one or two stores have yet to be determined, but Patrick Cleary, one of the developers, said a deal is nearly in place with an electronics store.

Sixty parking spaces are included in the developer’s plan for the site.

Cleary said he hopes to receive approval from the Planning Board for the project this fall, which would allow the renovation work to begin by the end of the year and be finished by the spring. Max Puyanic. the CEO of ConvenientMD, said it would take about six months from then to build out the urgent care clinic, estimating it would open sometime in the fall of 2018.

As part of the proposal, the developers would install new landscaping – with trees, shrubs and grass – along the perimeter of the property. That would include a new sidewalk along Bessie Street at the rear of the property – there is no sidewalk there now.

“They want to make a lot more green space there,” Harnais said.

Two of the three curb cuts on Southern Artery would be eliminated – the one nearest Bessie Street and farthest from the intersection with Washington Street would be maintained and used for vehicles entering and exiting the lot.. The existing curb cut on Washington Street would be maintained, but would be used only for entering vehicles. A third curb cut – for entering and exiting vehicles – would be added on Beacon Street.

Several residents at the meeting voiced concern about having the entrance/exit on Beacon Street and said they would prefer it be relocated to Bessie Street – which is a one-way road from Beacon Street to Southern Artery.

Cleary said the entrance/exit was placed on Beacon Street to ensure traffic in the parking lot flows smoothly; if it were relocated to Bessie Street, customers could find it difficult to maneuver in the corner of the lot where Beacon and Bessie meet.

Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall, who hosted the meeting, asked Cleary if he would consider moving the entrance/exit to Bessie Street and setting aside the area of the lot near Beacon Street for employee parking only.

“If you’re a motorist and you turn the corner and you see cars towards the end, you’re probably not going to drive at them,” Croall said.

Cleary said he could have his traffic engineers review Croall’s suggestion to see if it would work.

Another concern of residents was traffic at the intersection of Washington Street and Southern Artery. Steve Pizzi said exiting the site would be difficult because traffic on Southern Artery often backs up past Bessie Street.

“Trying to get in and out of there is going to be a horror show,” he said. “It’s a nightmare.”

There was an agreement among many of the residents present that the project would improve the look of the site.

“Aesthetically it’s going to be a big improvement,” said Charlie Kalell.

Puyanic field several questions about ConvenientMD, which has nine locations in New Hampshire and plans for two in Massachusetts, including the one in Quincy Point.

The urgent care clinic will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and he expects to see about 100 patients a day in several years. He said the clinic would have emergency-room doctors on site, allowing for treatment of more conditions than other urgent care clinics. As an urgent care clinic, ambulances would not be allowed to take patients there, he added; ambulances might be needed to transport patients with life-threatening emergencies – heart attacks, for examples – to a hospital.

Medical waste is stored within a dedicated room inside the clinic and would not be left in the dumpster located outside the building, Puyanic sad; the medical waste is hauled away by a company specializing in its disposal, using box trucks.

In response to concerns about the opioid epidemic seen in Quincy and neighboring communities, Puyanic said the New Hampshire clinics he operates have never been broken into and narcotics are not stored on site.

Cleary fielded questions about the Verizon store. Verizon, he said, had done well enough at its former Southern Artery location that it wanted to open in the new space. He estimated the store would stay open to 9 p.m. most nights at the latest.

Croall said the Tom O’Brien property is a “signature site” for the city of Quincy and Quincy Point, and that he has fielded numerous questions from constituents about its future since the dealership closed. He stated he wanted to see Washington Street kept as a commercial corridor, even as the rest of the city sees strong residential growth.

“Washington Street in my mind has always been a business corridor,” Croall said. “I notice there is a high level of appetite for residential development throughout the city – it’s been my goal to collaborate with potential suitors in the hopes of keeping Washington Street a commercial corridor.”

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Introduction To Sculling Sunday At Boathouse

Crew coaches Alicia Golden and Jonathan Sheehan in the Quincy Recreation Department new two-man shell on Blacks Creek. Quincy Recreation will hold a special introduction to sculling Sunday, July 23 from noon to 2 p.m., at the William F. Ryan Boating and Sailing program at Blacks Creek in Merrymount Park.         Photo by Lisa Aimola for the Quincy Recreation Department

Crew coaches Alicia Golden and Jonathan Sheehan in the Quincy Recreation Department new two-man shell on Blacks Creek. Quincy Recreation will hold a special introduction to sculling Sunday, July 23 from noon to 2 p.m., at the William F. Ryan Boating and Sailing program at Blacks Creek in Merrymount Park.
Photo by Lisa Aimola for the Quincy Recreation Department

The Quincy Recreation Department will hold a special introduction to sculling Sunday, July 23, at the William F. Ryan Boating and Sailing program at Blacks Creek in Merrymount Park.

The program will be from noon to 2 p.m.

This free program will utilize the recreation department’s new two man shells and is open to adults and youth who are entering the eighth grade through grade 12. Alicia Golden, the department rowing coach for the combined high school crew club, will present an introduction to the basics of sculling and no previous experience is necessary.

“This is an excellent opportunity to try a new activity that is not commonly available to our residents and a wonderful way to build interests in our growing crew program in Quincy,” said Recreation Director Barry Welch.

For more information  call 617-376-1394 or visit Quincyrecreation.com.

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House, Senate Reach Compromise On Marijuana Legalization Implementation Bill

After weeks of talks and missed deadlines, legislators in Massachusetts have reached an agreement on legislation that will make changes to Question 4, the law to regulate marijuana for adults that was approved by voters in November 2016.

“After weeks of intense advocacy from Massachusetts voters, legislators have decided to respect the will of the people,” said Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign. “We are relieved that the legislature has dropped the House’s ‘repeal and replace’ bill introduced last month, which would have made damaging changes to the law.”

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum sales tax rate (which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes) will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17% and the local option will be 3%.

“The law passed by voters was well-crafted and required no alteration,” said Schweich. “However, we respect the need for compromise, and while we don’t approve of every provision of this bill, we are satisfied that the outcome will serve the interests of Massachusetts residents and allow the Commonwealth to displace the unregulated marijuana market with a system of taxation and regulation.”

Last month, the House and Senate passed very different implementation bills before beginning negotiations to resolve their differences. Massachusetts residents made over 1,000 telephone calls to their lawmakers urging rejection of the House approach, while advocacy organizations put additional pressure on the legislature.

“We commend the Senate for holding the line on a number of important issues,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the 2016 Yes on 4 campaign and the subsequent advocacy effort to defend the law. “Now it’s time to provide funding that will allow the regulators to establish the rules that will govern marijuana cultivation and sales.”

The progress in Massachusetts will likely add momentum to regional efforts across New England to tax and regulate marijuana for adults.

“Maine is in the process of implementing its marijuana regulation law passed by voters, while legislators in Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all seriously considered bills to make marijuana legal for adults this year,” said Schweich. “The fact that marijuana sales will begin in Massachusetts in just one year will place added pressure on Rhode Island in particular. If legislators fail to take action, the Ocean State will soon be senselessly forfeiting significant and sorely-needed tax revenue to its neighbor.”

On July 1, Nevada became the fifth state in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults. Regulated marijuana sales are set to begin in Massachusetts in July 2018.

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