Traffic Safety a Big Topic of Conversation at JHA Meeting

By Lauren Bennett

The Jamaica Hills Association (JHA) had their monthly meeting on Feb. 13, where they discussed a variety of topics from committee updates to a longer discussion about speed and safety on the streets surrounding the Manning School on Louders Lane.

First on the agenda was updates from the various committees within the organization. Board member Dottie Farrell gave a public safety update, saying that traffic was a big topic of discussion at the recent Jamaica Pond (JPA) meeting. Traffic issues are rampant across Jamaica Plain and are a big concern for many residents across the neighborhood. She said she agreed with many of the comments made at that JPA meeting, including that people do not stop at stop signs. “There is no enforcement,” Farrell said. “You talk to these people and it goes nowhere.”

There were no updates from the Communication, Institutional, or Zoning committees.

Board member Celeste Walker provided an update on the proposed development at 98 Rockwood. She told those in attendance that the JHA Zoning Committee met with Armando Petruzziello of Northern Lights Development, the developer for the project.. “We were shown plans for 98 Rockwood that had 12 units in six buildings,” Walker said. “That’s about all we know at this time.”

She said that they are doing a traffic study and have not yet done a water management study. Walker said that the developer could build 11 units as of right, but they haven’t finalized anything, and that the “architect said he would do new plans that would involve houses of different sizes suited to the site,” she said.

“They haven’t gotten very far,” Walker said, explaining that it was a preliminary meeting. She added that the project is in a conservation protection subject district, and that it needs to go into Article 80 small project review at the BPDA. She said that she wants to keep in touch with both the developer and the BPDA regarding the project.

Walker also provided an update from the Friends of Allandale Woods, saying that she has not heard any decision from the court case on Jan. 9, regarding the lawsuit that was brought forth against the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) and the developer of a proposed project at 64 Allandale St over a now 16-unit development that is to be built at that address. The lawsuit is over the zoning relief granted by the ZBA.

Walker also said that there is a second lawsuit being brought forth by Springhouse, who wants to negotiate with the developer. She said that the developer released a new plan, lowering the number of units from 18 to 16, “which is slightly better,” Walker said.

She brought up the wetlands ordinance that is sponsored by Councilors Michelle Wu and Matt O’Malley, as the environmental impact of this proposal is concerning to some as it abuts Allandale Woods. Walker said that Rep. Nika Elugardo has added an amendment to the ordinance, which is “something that would help this along,” Walker said. Boston is only one of three cities on the Massachusetts coast that does not currently have a wetlands protection ordinance.

The main topic of conversation at the February meeting was speed and safety on the side streets surrounding the Manning School, and was a continuation of the conversation from Farrell’s public safety update.

The JHA discussed the traffic issues that they’ve been having in these neighborhoods, especially around speeding.

“Most of the speeding in our neighborhoods and on our streets is by our own residents,” Walker said. “I think the people are just not thinking.” Walker suggested that they call the principal at the Manning School, Ethan d”Ablemont Burnes, and follow up with a letter that would lay out some of their concerns. They want parents to know that “they are going through a neighborhood with narrow streets,” as well as parking on side streets when they drop their children off at the Manning School,” Walker continued.

Board member Don Haber said he thinks reaching out to d’Ablemont Burnes is a “good place to start,” and he thinks it should said that JHA would be glad to meet with him and brainstorm solutions to the traffic problems in the area.

Walker also suggested that they ask a police officer to come to the monthly JHA meetings, as many other community groups already do in order to get updates and ask questions about specific public safety concerns. Someone else suggested that more speed traps be placed around the school to deter people from speeding down the side streets.

“I see a lot more elevated sidewalks/crosswalks for traffic calming,” said Haber. “Police pooh poohed those years ago” because of snowplows and the like, he added. “It’s become a lot more prevalent all over the city. I don’t think there’s really any of those in our neighborhood,” Haber said.“Pond St. is a racetrack in the morning.”

There was a motion made to write to the principal of the Manning School to talk about traffic issues around the Manning on the streets surrounding the school. The motion passed, so a letter will be drafted to Ethan d’Ablemont Burnes.

On the topic of traffic, JHA also discussed who they would like to be the keynote speaker at their annual meeting. They decided that Chief of Streets Chris Osgood would be a good person to ask, and they could also ask someone from the Boston Transportation Department to come as well to provide information about traffic in JP and what they are working on.

Another suggestion was to possibly have someone from the state police or the state Department of Conservation and Recreation to answer questions about the Arborway or Centre St., as that is their jurisdiction.

The next Jamaica Hills meeting will be at 1300 Centre St. on March 13 at 7:30 p.m.

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