JPNC seats 20th member

April 2, 2010
By

David Taber

Web site up; campaigns planned

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council now has a full house after voting at its Feb. 23 meeting to appoint Jesse White as an Area A representative (Hyde, Jackson and Egleston Squares).

Meanwhile, the council came one step closer to forming a long-discussed Outreach Committee, and two of the council committees—the Parks and Open Space and Public Services committees—laid out tentative long-term agendas.

White, an attorney who focuses on civil rights and police misconduct litigation, has lived in JP for five years. “Community service and social justice are important parts of my life,” she said, introducing herself to the council.

White said she hopes to sit on the council’s Housing and Development Committee and to participate in a new outreach committee that is forming. “It’s important for more people in JP to know about the council and that it is a resource for them,” she said.

White said she collected 70 signatures of Area A residents supporting her nomination prior to the meeting. She lives just outside of Area A, but the JPNC bylaws allow for that if no one from the area is nominated.

The other nominee for the seat, Carlos Icaza, a veteran JPNC member who won a seat in the council’s September election, then stepped down. Icaza was not present at the meeting because he was attending a community meeting about the Centre and South Street Action Plan. [See related article.] Council members David Baron and Michael Reiskind spoke on his behalf.

Icaza does not live in Area A either. At the January JPNC meeting, he noted that the language in the JPNC bylaws could be interpreted to mean that White had missed a 60-day window for presenting herself to the council for nomination. The council did not accept that interpretation. At its March meeting, the council will vote on a group of bylaws changes intended to clarify and update the council rules.

Committees

The council’s ad hoc Web Site Committee announced it plans to disband soon, now that the JPNC web site (www.jpnc.org) is up and running. Before that, it plans to develop some Spanish-language content for the site and to develop “best practices” guidelines for maintaining the site, said Ben Knappmiller, who sits on the committee.

But once those tasks are complete, some of its members will join with the newly forming Outreach Committee, he said. A formal proposal for the creation of the Outreach Committee, either as an ad hoc or permanent council committee will be presented at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, the Council’s Parks and Open Space Committee is planning to begin its spring and summer schedule of monthly park cleanups in April, said council member Jay Zoldak, who heads that committee.

Parks and Open Space is also exploring the possibility of revisiting a previously proposed campaign to close Parkman Drive to vehicular traffic one day a week during the warm months, Zoldak said. The idea, he said is for the roadway next to Jamaica Pond to be open only for pedestrians, bicyclists, roller skater and other recreational users. A section of Memorial Drive next to the Charles River outside of Harvard Square in Cambridge has for years been closed to vehicles and open to recreational users on Sundays in the spring and summer.

Zoldak said the Parks and Open Space Committee would move forward with that effort “if we get [support from] other organizations.”

The parks and Open Spaces Committee also plans to do fundraising to support the Franklin Park Zoo, Zoldak said.

The Council’s Public Service Committee offered a detailed agenda for the next two years, including a new anti-billboard initiative.

“We are looking at the laws…We are going to do an inventory and try to get as many removed as we can,” Public Service Committee Chair Michael Reiskind said.

The Public Service Committee also plans to continue to advocate to save the JP Loop bus, Reiskind said. Scheduled to be cut by the MBTA last year, the loop bus—Route 48—was granted a one-year reprieve by the now-dissolved MBTA board while the community looked for other ways to maintain the service.

The demise of the JP Loop was a particular concern for residents at Amory Street Apartments, a housing development for seniors run by the Boston Housing
Department at 125 Amory Street.

Even though its year reprieve would have ended in January of this year, the loop bus is still running. MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo did not respond to a Gazette e-mail requesting comment by press time.

At the JPNC meeting, Reiskind was vague about the effort to save the bus, saying only that it is “moving slowly.”

The Public Service Committee also plans to support a number of community initiatives around the neighborhood for pedestrians and bicyclists. And it plans to continue to advocate for affordable wireless internet access for the neighborhood, he said.

Recent meetings of the council’s Zoning and Housing and Development committees both focused on a proposed retail/office space development near the Forest Hills T Station by local developer WCI Corp. [See related article].