River Street Dispensary Hopeful Vows 24-Hour Security, Personal Neighbor Contact to Mitigate Safety Concerns

CNA Stores’ Billie Haggard (left) and Robert DiFazio outline plans for their proposed marijuana dispensary at 558 River St. at a Feb. 6 community outreach meeting. (WHAV News photograph.)

CNA Stores CEO Robert DiFazio is willing to do all that he can to ensure resident safety at his proposed River Street marijuana dispensary—right down to giving out his personal contact information to concerned neighbors.

At Wednesday night’s community outreach meeting, Amesbury’s DiFazio and his business partner Billie Haggard—both Navy veterans—spent 90 minutes addressing security and traffic mitigation tactics for the location at 558 River Street anticipated to open this fall.

“We’re working with the city of Haverhill to make sure this is a positive impact on Haverhill, not a negative one,” said DiFazio, who is the president of six-year-old Ward Hill data services company Critical Solutions Group. “With CNA Stores, it will be done right – there will be no negative impacts. We will make sure of that.”

Indeed, DiFazio took special care at Wednesday’s public meeting—a necessary step ahead of final licensing—to assure abutters of his 24/7 security plan.

Intending to do business until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 8 p.m. on Sundays, CNA plans to have full-perimeter surveillance cameras and two to three unarmed security guards on patrol, DiFazio said. He and Haggard have already discussed their plan with Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro and are exploring options for a shuttle service and appointment scheduling.

According to DiFazio, CNA plans to install cameras to look onto the 31 parking spots on the property—which does not currently have video surveillance.

Florence Avenue abutters in attendance voiced concerns about safety in the area that has had its share of shootings and car accidents over the years. One resident who refused to identify himself to WHAV said his home has been broken into on several occasions, and worried about the potential for crime given CNA’s marijuana and excess cash on hand.

DiFazio confirmed he is working with one of the three banks in Massachusetts accepting business from cannabis retailers, and expects to slowly transition from accepting cash and debit only to credit cards rather quickly. As is typical with other dispensaries, deliveries and cash pickups will likely take place at the front door to prioritize safety. Armstrong Security’s Bradford Baker, a former consultant at MassDOT and for the MBTA, will oversee safety efforts and liaise with Haverhill Police, the company said.

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