Neil Wishinsky spent decades as a federal employee, working for the US Department of Labor, before he became a Brookline selectman in 2013.
A decade ago, he would have never predicted where he’d find himself on Saturday.
“If you had asked me 10 years ago whether I would be up here as the chief elected official of a Massachusetts municipality to welcome the opening of a marijuana retailer, I would have said you are crazy, but here we are and this is really a sign of how times have changed,” Wishinsky said Friday at a press conference inside New England Treatment Access, which starts recreational marijuana sales on Saturday.
Wishinsky, chairman of Brookline’s Select Board, will be NETA’s first customer on Saturday.
“Brookline is proud to be the host community for the first adult-use cannabis retailer accessible by the T,” he said, noting that the main priority on Saturday will be to keep traffic moving and keep the corridor “open and clear.”
Wishinsky spoke Friday alongside several other officials, including Amanda Rositano, director of operational compliance at NETA; Kim Napoli, NETA’s director of diversity programs; and Brookline police Lieutenant Philip Harrington.
The key messages: Take public transportation, and if you already know what you want to buy, order your products ahead of time.
NETA, which is located at the busy corner of Washington and Boylston streets, has limited parking, and even more so for its first week of recreational sales. The company is closing its parking lot of 13 spots to allow customers to line up there.
In the meantime, there will be a designated lot across the street for medical patients and another 25 spots available for customers at the Homewood Suites Hotel down the street.
Brookline police will have 15 to 16 officers monitoring and guiding traffic.
“Parking is very, very limited in this area,” Rositano said.
MBTA customers can usually take the Green Line’s D or E branches, as well as a number of different bus routes in the area. However, service on part of the D branch will be replaced with shuttle buses this weekend.
Rositano also emphasized that customers use the company’s Reserve Ahead program to order their products online in advance and take advantage of an expedited line that will be available outside the store.
“While we will have a separate line for full-service tomorrow, we do want to emphasize that the only way to guarantee you’re going to get through our doors is to make a Reserve Ahead order,” Rositano said.
Napoli also took a moment at the press conference to highlight the importance of diversity in NETA’s workforce across both its Northampton and Brookline stores.
“A diverse and inclusive environment allows for creativity and innovation to flourish,” she said. “The inception of legalized cannabis has allowed for a reset of the historical inequities and under-representation of groups including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ, and differently-abled adults that plague so many other industries.”
Rositano thanked town and police officials for their help preparing for opening day, adding that they feel they have a “solid plan in place” for the opening.
“This is a really significant moment standing here today with our town officials, with the police department,” Rositano said, “really acknowledging that cannabis does indeed have a place in our society and through thoughtful regulation and responsible operators, we can really bring this out of the shadows and into the light.”