Letters:

September 28, 2018
By

We need safer streets

We are a Jamaica Plain father (age 37) and son (age 3) writing together, because we believe JP streets are dangerous for children, pedestrians, and bicyclists. We dread the possibility of a devastating accident here in JP, similar to the tragedy in South Boston in July, when a van jumped the curb and struck a stroller.

JP streets are filled with distracted Uber and Lyft drivers, along with sleep-deprived motorists and truck drivers, many of whom don’t live in our neighborhood, and aren’t invested in the safety of our streets.

We respectfully request that our elected officials

  1. Construct protected bike lanes on South, Centre, and Washington Streets, South Huntington Avenue, Arborway, and Jamaicaway.
  2. Decrease the speed limit to 20 miles per hour
  3. Increase police presence to ticket speeders, particularly near the Forest Hills Orange Line station. Arborway is not a highway.
  4. Install automatic traffic cameras, which will generate revenue for the city of Boston.
  5. Build speed bumps on JP side streets.

The goal is making JP streets safer and friendlier. There will also be a positive economic impact on local businesses if there are more pedestrians on the streets. More money spent here in JP, less money spent on Amazon.

Mayor Walsh and Boston City Council members, by making JP streets safer, everyone’s lives will be enriched. Our children’s lives depend on you taking action now.

 

Philip Lederer MD

Joseph Lederer

Jamaica Plain residents

Sal’s: An Appreciation

J.P. is often thought of as unique in its diversity, its wealth of green spaces, and a plethora of interesting shops and restaurants. When I first got to know the neighborhood in 1978, changes were already taking place, some good, some not so good.  Unfortunately, change, in more recent years, brings higher prices in homes and rentals, and much of the hardscrabble and “cool” quality of the neighborhood has disappeared. Ask any artist who has been displaced by developers.

One of the mainstays is Sal’s Barber Shop (along with a number of fine shops and services that bring folks back repeatedly to shop in J.P.)   When it first opened in 1991, many of us were pleased to see that classic striped barber pole go up in a convenient Centre Street location and where it stands today.  Having grown up in Queens, New York, there were any number of barber shops in my neighborhood owned and operated by Italians, and I recall at least two by the name of Sal’s.   However, in this case, Sal stood for Saleh, the last name of the owner, Milad Saleh., who is from Beirut, Lebanon. He and his brother staffed the shop with a number of barbers from different parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Talk about diversity!  Since opening, they’ve employed expert barbers from places like Iraq, Morocco, Jordan along with, more recently,  a couple of guys from the Boston area.  Whether you get Izzy (Azzeddine), Milad, or any of the other highly skilled barbers, you can expect a fine haircut at a reasonable price, not to mention an earful of commentary on what happened to the local sports teams the previous night. One barber, from Iraq, is as conversant about the Celtics and the NBA as any local sports commentator, so, if you get him, you better know about any recent trade talk or where the Green stands among the top contenders. And the mix of customers is equally diverse – from kids getting their first haircut experience to millennials who grew up going to Sal’s to old codgers like me. Early on, I would practice my French with Izzy who, as a Moroccan, speaks fluently because of the relationship between the two countries over the centuries. Milad, who lived in Germany for a number of years, would respond to my several attempts at the more guttural language, and all would occasionally and politely acknowledge my feeble attempts at saying hello or thank you in Arabic.

Of course, these men are not from northern European countries favored by the present administration, but they are immigrants who bring to this country talent, a refreshing perspective on world affairs, and an appreciation for all that is so often taken for granted by those of us born in the U.S.  We are fortunate to have such an establishment as part of Jamaica Plain’s unique blend of people and shops.

Michel L. Spitzer

Jamaica Plain resident

 

Status quo isn’t working

As someone who grew up in working class Lower Roxbury/ South End in the 50s and 60s, I can remember a time when housing costs were not a major factor in finding apartments to raise families. In comparison to other necessities at that time, there was no crisis in finding apartments at decent rents.

However, that was then and not now. Living on East Springfield Street over a half-century ago, rents were reasonable for working families. Supermarket prices also pretty inexpensive too. I recently viewed an old photo taken back around 1970 of the First National Store opposite Holy Cross Cathedral. Back then, folks with cash hadn’t discovered how great the neighborhood was. All of us there liked the neighborhood. It was relatively safe too. Oh, back then, rents about $35 or $40 per month plus utilities.

Today walking down East Springfield Street near Mike’s City Diner, these rowhouses are now renting for about $2,500 per month and don’t even how much you can purchase these buildings for today. You can’t afford any of them.

I live in East Boston today where the so-called building boom is at hyper-speed just like Southie’s Seaport was. Walls of high-rise, high-end luxury living blocking the harbor from the neighborhood. Along with this waterfront housing boom comes the trickle down boom as apartments and homes have been sold, restored or whatever. Rents keep soaring and house price zooming into space as well.

If you don’t own in East Boston today, you are not long for this once affordable neighborhood. Same goes pretty much across the city as I write this down. According to a new piece of research just published in the Boston Globe, about 64 percent of all sold luxury apartments or condos are going to part-time Bostonians or investors. Real Bostonians whether old or new are likely frozen out of this housing boom that our elected officials constantly gloat about.

Little by little, Boston is turning into a city of extreme living, the very rich and the very poor. Middle class homeowners don’t know what to do as the boom keeps booming. Boston needs to become a livable city again across the board.

Our politicians have taken their eyes off the mark. They think the current Building Boom is working but in reality, is it? Are you safe in your home now? Are you one rent hike away from moving out and where can you go?
The status quo isn’t working and we need to re-look at how Boston is booming and see all those folks getting boomed by this boom. How can we grow as a diverse community of people? We need to do more than we are currently doing because we have no other choice.

Sal Giarratani

East Boston resident

 

 

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