The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) held its annual meeting virtually on December 6, where the group voted to oppose a proposed dormer at 20 Orchard Street, elected new officers, and discussed the ongoing issue of the cemetery at First Church in JP being used as a dog park.
20 ORCHARD ST.
At last month’s JPA meeting, Erica Rice and her husband Justin, who live at 20 Orchard St., proposed to construct a dormer for a new master bathroom, but there was a good deal of opposition along with support for the proposal. The JPA requested that another meeting be held with the owners and abutters.
According to the JPA agenda, “an abutters meeting resulted in no changes in the positions of any party.”
Several neighbors spoke up in support of the proposal, but the JPA voted to oppose the project six to two with two members abstaining.
NEW OFFICERS VOTE
As part of the annual meeting, new officers were elected to the JPA Board, including Kay Mathew as Chair, Peter Steiger as 1st Vice Chair, Peter Elmuts as 2nd Vice Chair, Rosemary Jones as Interim Clerk, and Martin Thomson as Treasurer.
Additionally, three new members were elected to the board: Jasmine Crafts, Quentin Davis, and Tamara Pitts.
Also on the agenda was a discussion of a parking lot that was under construction at Lakeviille and Goodrich Roads.
“If people don’t know, it’s a backyard that fronts of Goodrich Rd.,” JPA member Michael Reiskind said, adding that it is an “extensive, large, grassy backyard. The owner of the apartment building has started to tear up the grass and build the parking lot. Neighbors from Goodrich Rd. Want to know how to prevent this from happening.”
He said that this project potentially violates the zoning code because of the neighborhood’s green space requirements. He also said that “heavy equipment” is not permitted to be brought in across the sidewalk without a curb cut, but that has been done. He said that this is a “relatively minor violation.”
A neighbor spoke up and said that work has since been stopped, but JPA Chair Rosemary Jones said at the beginning of the conversation that “it’s still left up in the air what’s going to happen next.”
CEMETERY DOG PARK
Bonnie McBride, who previously came before the JPA to discuss issues with the burial ground at First Church on Eliot St. being used as a dog park, returned before the JPA to provide an update.
She said that there is an “informal quid pro quo arrangement with dog owners” that is “ignoring the church’s own policy” about dogs in the burial ground. McBride is against the use of the burial ground as a dog park, and while many share her viewpoint, there are also many residents who are pushing to respectfully use the space for their dogs.
In July, a community listening session was held with church officials that allowed people on both sides of the issue to speak their minds. McBride said that in August, the church’s governing board reinstated their “exiting policy of no off leash dogs on church property until a congregation meeting could be held in December.”
She said that during this time, dog owners complied with the order.
“We dared to hope that this state of affairs might continue,” McBride said at the JPA meeting. She said that in early November, she discovered a “comprehensive proposal” for a dog park “in the heart of the burying ground.”
McBride said that “the Friends of the Burying Ground continue to oppose any off-leash dog park in the burying ground.” She said that many members of this group, including herself, are or were dog owners and recognize that Jamaica Plain needs an area for people to bring their dogs, but they do not believe this is the appropriate location.
She said they are willing to “identify and help develop a more suitable space.”
She said that the proposal includes limiting hours that dogs can be off leash in the park, and there would be no more than 15 dogs allowed in the area at one time.
“The dog owners are good people,” McBride said, calling them a “well-organized, highly motivated group.”
Peter Shaprio is a resident who said he is in support of the dog area in the burying ground, and Chris Vandeven said, “I found no inaccuracies in anything Bonnie had to say.” She said that as an abutter on Eliot St., she said she has “concerns” about the “self policing aspect of this.”