A few of my neighbors have brought this news article to my attention. I first saw the article early this week but missed to read the location. A so-called ‘head shop’ is openning in our neighborhood.
The name of the shop is “The Bamboo Eater”, and according to the Diamondback article it will open in the Hollywood Square Shopping Center (near the four corners) on Rhode Island Avenue at the end of this month. Please see the map below.
Here is the website of the shop: http://thebambooeater.com/index.php
Our city needs new businesses to get more revenue, and also it’s a welcome news that an UMD alumni is opening a business in the city, but concerned residents want to examine the negative consequences a business may bring to the surrounding residential community.
The owner of the business insists that the shop is a tobacco store and will not just cater to smokers but instead will offer a range of products while also striving to establish itself within the community.
However the neighbors who brought this to my attention are unimpressed. Here is what one of the residents wrote to me:
This type of business is for the most part is directed to those people who use illicit drugs ie hashish, cocaine etc. We do not want anything like this across the street from the College Park Youth and Family Services, the soon to be Sunnyside Skate Board Park (for our youngsters, teenagers and young adults) and the childcare facility on the corner of Rhode Island Avenue at Edgewood Road. This will attract the wrong people to our family orientated community, jeopardize our efforts to revitalize that business district, potentially increase crime and be a nuisance to the neighborhood and to those local businesses that could and probably will lose business because most people DO NOT want to be around those kind of people. Also we do not want our young people to be exposed to that type of thing or being curious as young people are go there and possibly be exposed to a culture that is not in their best interests, family stability or community safety.
Not everyone shares this neighbor’s concern though. My fellow NCP blogger Joe Smith disagrees on this post: My point: let’s not judge a store before it’s even open… if the store is involved in illegal activity after it opens, then there are already mechanisms in place to deal with it.
District 1 Councilman Patrick Wojahn thinks the city cannot do anything from the shop being operational. “Although I believe we (council members) both share the concerns about illegal drug use in our community, there is little that the City could do to prevent this business from opening, as long as they are not doing anything illegal.” Patrick wrote in a North College Park listserve.
Some residents think the city should have come to an agreement with the store owner even before the news of the store’s opening became public. “I fault the city for not having an understanding with the landlords.” – wrote one resident. “The city has once again dropped the ball.” - commented another.
On the national level, there seems to be increasing opposition against selling paraphernalia in neighborhood stores. Though a coincidence, just two weeks ago the state of Florida banned selling pipes in most head shops. The so-called “Bong Bill” passed by the Senate and then overwhelmingly passed 115-0 in the House.Violators could face up to a year in jail. “I’ve been fighting the pipe industry for the longest, because it is all a part of the drug trade and the criminal enterprise that we know exists and destroys neighborhoods, families and order in our society,” said Bill’s sponsor Rep. Rouson. Here is more on NBC
Speaking of the MD state law, one resident pointed out that they were outlawed in this state some 25 years ago. The drug paraphernalia laws are pretty effective here, which is why so many of the shops closed down (or became tattoo parlors) once those laws passed. It’s an element of nostalgia that is better left in the past, I think most of us who remember would agree. – commented one long time north College Park resident.
I second the concern about having this so close to a skate-park, as well. With so many kids getting ready to enter their mid-to-late teens around here, organized children’s activities such as the Boys and Girls Club getting hammered by budget cuts, and the city hovering around a 20% poverty level, I see dark times ahead if this goes forward. A store like this would likely only be throwing gasoline on a powder-keg, and selling the lighters. - the same resident commented further.