PONDSIDE—Trees and safety were the focus of residents’ concerns at a community meeting on July 16 featuring presentations by representatives from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and state and local police departments about state parkways in JP.
State Rep. Jeffery Sánchez, who hosts meetings for residents who neighbor JP’s state-owned roadways and parks at least twice a year, kept a full agenda on track.
After the meeting, Sánchez said the active engagement of the community, as evidenced by the close to 30 residents in attendance at the meeting, made it worth his while to facilitate the interaction between state authorities and Pondside neighbors.
The positive effects of past meetings were briefly discussed, with residents thanking DCR representatives for their work fixing sidewalks along the parkways.
But when John Iappini, of the Jamaica Pond Association asked Karl Pastore, head of the DCR’s Harbor region, which includes Jamaica Pond, what grade the DCR’s efforts should get, Pastore was not overly enthusiastic.
Pastore described DCR’s grade as a D last year, this year he told the meeting it was a “C at best. But if you are going to put something in the paper say we are doing better. For the sake of the paper I will say B-,” Pastore said.
Members of the media had been asked to identify themselves at the beginning of the meeting. The Gazette was the only media outlet to speak up.
Iapinni said dead and dying trees along the Jamaicaway are a public safety hazard. “There are a lot of dead and dying trees that could fall at any time,” Iapinni said.
Pastore , who had initially reported to the meeting that dead wood issues were under control along the Jamaicaway, acknowledged that a tree had, in fact, fallen just a few weeks ago.
Another neighbor, who said she was present when the tree fell, said it happened on a sunny day with no wind.
“I hear a lot of people saying…[the report] is not adequate,” Pastore said, and promised he would look into it.
A significant portion of the meeting was devoted to discussion of pedestrian safety on the Arborway, Riverway and Jamaicaway, with state police lamenting it is hard these days to tell the difference between a parkway and a highway.
Frustration with speeders on the parkways led one area resident to recommend surveillance cameras be installed.
“As far as civil liberties are concerned, I challenge anyone to go into stores or ATMs or enter the turnpike without having their picture taken,” the resident said.
Sánchez said there are bills pending at the state level that propose to increase the Commonwealth’s authority to conduct surveillance. Civil liberties concerns have tied most of them up, he said.
Support for the installation of cameras was not unanimous at the meeting.
Another resident said he did not see, “people getting run over in droves and I don’t agree with putting up video cameras everywhere.”
Described briefly at the meeting by Sarah Freeman of the Arborway Coalition and a DCR staffer, but absent from the conversation, was the substance of a DCR report, released that morning, presenting four alternatives for redesigns of Kelley and Murray Circles. All the proposals include redesigning one or both circles as signalized intersections. The intention of the redesign proposals is to improve traffic flow, but stoplights and crossing signals will, presumably make these sections of roadway more accessible. There was no word on a timeline for choosing or implementing a design.