Jamaica Plain gets new Neighborhood Coordinator

December 14, 2007
By

DAVID TABER


Gazette Photo by David Taber Colleen Keller, the new JP liaison from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood
Services.

The new Jamaica Plain liaison from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services is no stranger to public services or her new beat.

Colleen Keller is the first born-and-raised JP resident to hold the position since it was created in 1992. And she described herself as “a product of city services” in a recent Gazette interview.

“I went to [Boston] public schools and City Year camp, I did after-school at the firehouse”—a community center later incarnated as J.P. Licks, she said.

The recent George Washington University graduate sat on the Mayor’s Youth Council in her teens and helped run the Mayor’s Youth Hotline, which provides referrals for youth services, she said.

She has also worked as a homework assistant mentor at the Connolly Branch Library and a sailing instructor and staff coordinator of the Jamaica Pond Project.

After about a month on the job, Keller described her new gig as hectic. “JP is buzzing,” she said.

It has “the most crime watch associations and neighborhood associations of any neighborhood [in Boston],” she said.

Part of her job, she said is to act as the mayor’s eyes and ears when those organizations meet, as well as keeping tabs on the numerous major development projects under way in the area, including in Forest Hills and Jackson Square and at the Blessed Sacrament site.

She is also on hand to help residents “through city processe-s—help them figure out who to talk to when a streetlight goes out, or when they need a construction variance, who they need to talk to in order to solve their issues,” she said.

Keller said she feels she is continuing a family tradition, particularly in supporting the community review process in JP’s latest round of redevelopment.

Her mother, Susan Mahoney, was active in the campaign in the 1970s to block construction of an extension of Interstate 95 along what is now the Southwest Corridor. Keller said she sees the latest round of public property development, which is largely being done by local non-profit developers, as a continuation of that community revitalization work.

“I feel like I am the second part of that, making sure JP stays the vibrant place that it is,” she said.

Keller can be reached through the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services at 635-3485.