PONDSIDE—Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) board members talked about spurring community interest in their Centre Street business district revitalization project, and meeting with Inspectional Services Department (ISD) Commissioner William Good to discuss specific zoning issues that continue to agitate the members, at their Jan. 8 meeting at the Rogerson House.
Board members voiced their disgust with the process that led to the neglect of the now condemned Pinebank mansion by the city at their Jan. 8 meeting at the Rogerson House. The Pinebank mansion at Jamaica Pond is a decaying 1870 structure being demolished brick by brick. [See related story.]
“It’s a real shame that piece of history is lost. I totally blame the City of Boston,” said JPA Chair John Iappini. “They are totally to blame for a piece of American history going down the tubes. They should be ashamed of themselves… There is no reason for this to happen.”
Iappini also said there were long-term benefits to the green space at the Pinebank site. “That part of the park will be returned to the citizens,” said Iappini. “There could be something like a terrace that can be used for small gatherings.”
The JPA has $10,000 in its parks fund dedicated to some sort of Pinebank memorial.
Board member Franklyn Salimbene has drafted a Centre Street Reconstruction Initiative. The initiative asks Centre Street business owners to be mindful of JPA requests and to give owners the opportunity for direct communication with the neighborhood group.
But the primary focus of the initiative is a complete Centre Street makeover. “What Centre Street really needs,” said Salimbene, “is change from sidewalk to sidewalk.”
Salimbene suggested a skim-coat (one coat of asphalt), but only if would not allow the city to say “they’re OK in Jamaica Plain for five years.”
According to Salimbene, the Centre Street trolley tracks are unusable.
On a larger scale, Salimbene said this initiative is more about what the entire JP community wants the center of their main business district to look like. He said he wants to engage the entire community in a discussion about what they want Centre Street to be.
He suggested studies of the scale and size of the sidewalk and street to see what sort of widening or narrowing or other changes might be made to improve the streetscape.
“I’ve always felt Centre Street belongs to everybody, not one part of JP…not one interest group,” said Salimbene. “It just isn’t where it needs to be.”
“In terms of street lining…Centre Street is an absolute dump but the city has never done anything,” said Kevin Moloney.
The board also discussed its desire to meet with the new transportation commissioner about potential short and long-term plans. Salimbene said reconstruction is a larger project. In the short run, board members said they want the city to at least
resurface Centre Street.
John Iappini said a group of four of five JPA members needs to sit down with an ISD inspector face-to-face.
“We think we need to do that because there are still issues lingering in our minds,” said Iappini.
That list includes an Arborway property where, the board claims, the owner continues to park three to five cars, and the burned Baptist Church at 633 Centre St.
Not all board members were angry about the church and some said its current condition is a reminder of what happened.
“The site looks atrocious. Aside from the burned out church…the burned timber, the
litter, the Astro-Turf, the trailer, the leaves,” said Terry Power. “It looks primitive.”
Salimbene suggested asking a church leader to the next meeting to find out the status of restoration and future plans.
According to Iappini, the JPA board currently has seven open slots. Anyone who lives in the JP Pondside neighborhood qualifies to be nominated for election. Elections for new board members as well as new officers will be in March. Terms are three years long. For more information visit www.jamaicapondassociation.org.