New JPNC quiet on Whole Foods

October 7, 2011
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By Rebeca Oliviera and David Taber

Little discussion about Whole Foods took place at the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) first meeting Sept. 27, despite the fact that at least two of the newly elected council members are vocal opponents of the grocer’s planned move to Hyde Square.

A report from a JPNC committee that met and attempted to negotiate a “good neighbor” agreement with Whole Foods was accepted virtually without comment.

“They told us pretty right off the bat that they weren’t going to sign anything,” outgoing JPNC member Steve Laferriere said at the meeting. Laferriere headed an ad hoc Whole Foods Committee for the council that spent months drafting a report on the potential impact of Whole Foods’ planned move to the neighborhood and recommendations for how the grocer could support JP. He was also present at a Sept. 7 meeting between some members of the JPNC and Whole Foods officials.

Helen Matthews, an anti-Whole Foods activist with the group Whose Foods? Whose Community? The Coalition for an Affordable and Diverse JP, was one of the only people to comment. She was “extremely disappointed,” she said.

Martha Rodriguez and Benjamin Day, two other Whose Foods members, did not say anything.

Meanwhile, Whole Foods is moving forward with community outreach efforts. Whole Foods has hired 7-year JP resident Jennifer Licht to serve as marketing and community liaison for its JP store.

Her job will be “working with community organizations to try to find great partnerships for Whole Foods Market,” Licht said in a phone interview with the Gazette last week.

Asked about the community controversy sparked by Whole Foods planned move to JP, Licht said only, “I am super-excited to be in this position. I can’t wait until we open,” and that the feedback she has heard in the neighborhood about Whole Foods opening has been largely positive.

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