March 9, 2018

Make America civil again

After reading Michael L. Spitzer’s latest diatribe at President Trump, I just wonder why can’t we all just get along like North Korea and South Korea? Oh, that’s right, we are! I believe in debate and dialogue. Just because we disagree with each other doesn’t mean we have to insult each other. I want to see a new bumpersticker that reads, “Make America Civil Again.”

In America we all have a Bill of Rights that gives us the liberty to speak out. Obviously Michael and I are not on the same page when it comes to politics but that is what makes America special. We all have rights here. However, to call President Obama our last REAL president is not very nice. him or not, Trump won the 2016 presidential race over the presumed winner and thus inspired the Anti-Trump Resistance.

Ask a New Yorker what he thinks of Trump? No me. I won’t even talk sports with them. They probably think the Yankees are better than the Red Sox. Tr54ump may not be perfect, I give you that. He even makes me cringe at times. However he is not an “unworthy fraud who steps on the Constitution.”

I too lived through Watergate and Trump is not Nixon.


East Boston resident

Gun control

I am an alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the site of a horrific attack that took 17 lives. In response, the Stoneman Douglas students have called for the “timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.” I support their call to action and ask that the Massachusetts Legislature pass a red flag law.

Like many mass shooters, the suspect displayed warning signs prior to the shooting. A red flag law would empower family members and law enforcement to seek an Extreme Risk Protection order temporarily restricting a person’s access to guns when they pose a danger to self or others. Fives states have red flag laws and while Massachusetts is a leader in gun safety, we have yet to pass a law like this. I am calling on our state legislators to please take this step to prevent a similar tragedy from happening here.

Lauren Siegel

Jamaica Plain resident

Tell officials to mind their bee-ness

Pollinators, it hardly needs to be said, are critical for the health of food supply and green spaces. On average, honeybees can fly up to four miles away from their hives for food. Therefore, it only takes a few beekeepers in a community to pollinate everyone’s gardens. It has become clear, though, that our gardens and lawns aren’t always safe for bees.

Neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) have been harming bees for decades. Although the topic has suffered some controversy, the European Food Safety Authority recently reconfirmed that neonics pose a significant threat to beneficial organisms of all kinds.

It only requires a tiny amount of neonics to chronically poison the bees that pollinate a community. An Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators simply requires those who apply these insecticides to have a pesticide applicator license. This is a matter of common sense.

So far, only two states (Maryland and Connecticut) have taken similar legislative steps. Massachusetts could be a leader in pollinator protection, as the federal government notoriously dawdles and denies. Jamaica Plain Representative Jeffrey Sánchez is the chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, where an Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators currently resides. I urge Rep. Sánchez to move the Act out of committee, and suggest that other Jamaica Plain residents contact him with their concerns.

David Miller

Jamaica Plain resident

Against the 125 Amory St. development

I am a neighbor to the 125 Amory Street Development and have attended all of the Community hearings on the project along with private meetings with the developers. The recent approval of this project by the BPDA bothers me for several reasons.

The 125 Amory St property is landlocked on 2 of its 4 sides.  The only way in and out is via Atherton Street and Amory Street.  Amory Street is an extremely busy thoroughfare and during the morning and evening commute, the traffic is stopped for blocks at a time.  The street is also very curvy causing limited sight lines.  The developers also propose putting main entrances to 2 of the 3 new buildings directly onto Amory Street which may cause more traffic headaches.

This project, when complete, will bring upwards of 1,000+ additional people to the site along with additional car/truck traffic (360 new units, 257 parking spaces, 200+/- existing units: final numbers are in flux).  Neither the city nor the developers have put forth a Transportation Plan that will address the increased traffic congestion that this project will bring.  Without the improved infrastructure to support the increased density of this project and other nearby projects, we will all suffer the consequences.

I support the building of more housing in Boston but this project is too large for the site, given its present constraints.  When the developers were asked by residents for a smaller scale project, the response was, we have to build it this large to pay for it.  To me this isn’t a reasonable justification for the density of this project.  It should be built to meet the constraints of the site and not larger.  Another missed opportunity here is the lack of an on-site renewable energy component for the project and not building the project to Passive House standards which would save a huge amount of energy.  Why not build a project that will be the most energy efficient with today’s technology. For these and other reasons, I do not support this project in its present iteration.

I would like to add, that at the numerous meetings that we attended, we asked for the JP Loop bus (#48) bus to be reinstated and was given a no answer.  We asked for a Shuttle bus service to be added for residents of the complex, we were told ‘too expensive’.

Ray Soohoo

Roxbury resident

Wake Up The Earth celebrates 40 years

It’s hard to believe that it is already 40 years since we started the Wake Up The Earth Festival, in an effort to bring together people from Jamaica Plain and Roxbury to celebrate spring and the defeat of the highway (I95) that would have cut through our communities in the SW Corridor.  Little did I know that what was meant to be a one-time event would turn into a 40-year tradition, and into others  —  the Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade (35 years), the start of Spontaneous Celebrations (1991), and its Community Arts Center at 45 Danforth St. (1995) and keep me and many others busy throughout all these years!  Many foundations used to say: “We don’t fund one-time events,” so the festivals have been mostly run by volunteers, with much appreciated support from local businesses and individuals as well as from earned income.

As we are preparing for the celebration of the 40th anniversary, we would welcome stories, comments, photos and films that people in our community have that we could incorporate in a presentation at the Festival and use for future fundraising.  Besides maintaining the Festival traditions, Spontaneous Celebrations’ Community Arts Center is used by a large variety of community groups for classes and functions and, at times, is bursting at the seams. This is why we are currently pursuing an expansion of the facility at 45 Danforth St., which would include making the building fully accessible.

Starting March 17, Festival Arts workshops will be offered at Spontaneous on Saturday afternoons in March and April, led by local as well as international artists. Open House will be on March 10th (1-4pm) for people interested in participating and or volunteering.

For more information check spontaneouscelebrations.org or contact femke@spontaneouscelebrations.org.

Femke Rosenbaum

Resident of Jamaica Plain and Founder of the Wake Up The Earth Festival

Things change

My parents were born in France, came over in the late 20’s as a couple (although my old man had lived in the States off and on during his childhood years} and became proud citizens of the United States of America. They had witnessed bigotry and the rise of Nazism in Europe and I’m sure they thought of this country as a sanctuary… not that their personal lives were in danger, but they were sensitive as most Europeans to the rise of hate and militancy and we’re thankful to become part of a then shining democracy, a country not without its faults, but always trying to overcome them! And it did for so many years, through WWII, Korea, McCarthyism, the mistakes of Vietnam, the improvements thanks to the Civil Rights movement, etc.

There was always a core group of bigots in this country, the obvious ones in more rural areas where people of color were denied simple rights up until, finally, Jim Crow was challenged and overturned by the courts and the federal government AND THINGS CHANGED. To think that anti-Semitism existed even in NYC through the 20th century and even in the community in which I grew up…Forest Hills in Queens – is hard to believe (or maybe not), but somehow our society became more enlightened and there became a blending of people of all creeds and colors.

My parents have been dead for decades, but I often wonder how they would react to the political. societal, and cultural chaos which we face today. To start, I’m sure, the reaction would be, “How in God’s name did this happen?” I would be forced to reply, “You answered your own question…in God’s name!”

Michel L. Spitzer

Jamaica Plain resident

Airplane noise

I would like to thank Alan Wright for his Feb 23rd Op Ed letter in the Gazette and for all his hard work on behalf of the Roslindale community to remedy noise over southwest Boston communities from Logan Airport’s Runway 27.

I do not, however, understand how slowing down the planes and lowering their height as they fly over JP and other neighborhoods under the Runway 27 flightpath would “markedly reduce noise and provide some relief”, as predicted by Mr. Wright. Having thousands of departing jets moving more slowly as they pass overhead and flying closer in altitude to our homes would seem to negate any proposed noise reduction benefits due to “engine thrust and wind turbulence around the airplane frame.” I, for one, do not want any of these turbo jets one foot closer to any neighborhood roofs.

This slower climb-out of departing planes would further devastate heavily noise-impacted Southie, South End and lower Roxbury communities who bear the initial brunt of Runway 27’s departing jet traffic thus detrimentally and significantly adding to the “population equity issues” to which he refers in his letter. If the Massport Committee’s Block 1 proposals purport to reduce environmental noise-impacts over less densely populated communities and to impact fewer noise-sensitive sites such as schools, hospitals, etc. by having slower moving, lower-altitude planes departing over such close-in neighborhoods, then it should not be supported.

Additionally, after working for 10 years on a formal, in-depth FAA Environmental Impact Study that thoroughly studied and analyzed all possible noise reduction flight procedures for Logan’s Runway 27 departures, I fear that this Massport-supported Study’s “Block 2” will resurrect the seemingly “equitable” solution of fanning all jets off Runway 27, thereby inundating all of Southwest Boston neighborhoods, as well as impacting the most number of hospitals, schools, nursing homes and childcare facilities that are spared by the currently existing flight procedure. Fanning all departures is always supported by the airline industry supporters of Massport and the FAA because it allows Logan Airport to run more departing jets off the end of one runway by spreading them out and not keeping the jets “in trail” at a mandated distance behind each other. This old, thoroughly-studied, bad idea of fanning would bring further noise devastation to close-in Boston communities. I am hoping that Mr. Wright and his fellow Massport Community Advisory Committee Representatives will be able to find actual noise reduction solutions that do not exasperate our current air traffic noise burden.

As a long-time veteran of this fight for relief, I truly appreciate all citizens working on this issue.

Anastasia Lyman

Jamaica Plain resident