JP Observer: Thaw reveals more work to be done

March 27, 2015
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A new exercise program is being launched here this spring. Jamaica Plain resident Vivienne Frachtenberg called me last week to ask if I want to participate. She said it’s called “Walk and Bend,” and she started the program several days earlier.

I confess I didn’t get the joke until she told me the equipment she uses for this workout: plastic bag(s) and “a glove you don’t care about.” Every time you walk down a JP street, she said, when you see debris that has emerged from the melting snow, you bend down, pick it up and put it in the bag to throw away when full. Good idea!

The City-sponsored JP Shines neighborhood cleanup on May 9 will offer another chance for folks to pitch in. See cityofboston.gov/ons/BostonShines for more information.

“After this unparalleled and unprecedented storm, the city is very dirty, and we have to clean it up,” local City Councilor Matt O’Malley put on his Facebook page from a council hearing he called on the topic March 16.

The five community people who testified at the 2.5-hour hearing, including Michael Reiskind, were all from JP, he said this week. Reiskind, a member of the JP Shines Committee and of the JP Business and Professional Association board, told the board at its monthly meeting on March 18 that he said at the hearing the city needs to do a better job of cleanup, especially on main streets.

He reported that the city has hired 20 new hokeys (individuals with brooms and big dust pans) to follow trash trucks in 10 cleaning districts and has put them to work already, earlier than the usual April 1.

People at the meeting had various suggestions, including labeling future snow removal signs with dates and times, removing more snow from the city lot behind Blanchard’s, and having hokeys year-round.

The long-awaited thaw, which comes and goes these days, is revealing another big problem in JP business districts. Centre Street Sanctuary in Hyde Square at the former Blessed Sacrament Church campus closed on March 8, as the Gazette reported on March 13. The restaurant’s owner, Adam Rutstein, indicated that the loss of business due to excessive snow piled on top of start-up costs, and he had to shut the doors.

Other businesses in our neighborhood’s “living rooms” have been struggling against the weather as well. In response to a question from the Gazette at the JP BAPA meeting, Brad Brown of Blue Frog Bakery said his business took in $12,000 less this winter compared to last. Others agreed business has been very slow.

Brown echoed other owners when they were asked by the Gazette what advice they have for residents who want to help:  “Buy local, shop local. Get out there and buy everything—paper, glasses, coffee, everything—locally. Please don’t shop on line at non-local businesses.”

The state has even gotten involved. A “Snow Storm Loan Fund” with advantageous terms is now being offered by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (mcdfc.com) for Boston small businesses to help them recover from losses of revenue during the horrible weather. Alison Moronta, business development director at the JP Neighborhood Development Corporation, is the local contact at 617-522-2424 ext. 226 or amoronta@jpndc.org. The deadline to apply is in May.

Lots of JP residents and workers helped one another during the storms. Now it’s time for our hearts to melt along with the snow to once again to help our community, as we clean up our streets and buy from our local businesses. We can all celebrate our uncovered, recovering neighborhood on May 2 at the Wake Up the Earth Festival.

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