JPNC holds monthly meeting, seeks to fill three vacancies

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, February 27, via Zoom. The meeting consisted principally of reports from the JPNC’s committees.
Chair Renee Stacey Welch, vice-chair Bernard Doherty, and fellow council members Purple Reign, Willie Mitchell, Dave Baron, Michael Reiskind, Gert Thorn, Peter DeCotis, Esther Beillard, Sarah Freeman, Peg Preble, Lorenzo Bartoloni, Nicholas Chaves, Leah Simmons, and Katherine O’Shea were in attendance.
Jordan Frias from the office of new District 6 City Councilor Ben Weber (a former member of the JPNC) also was on hand for the meeting. 
The council heard from its various committees. First up was the Public Service Committee report presented by Reiskind. He said the committee discussed the new police procedures per the new union contract, which will allow civilian flaggers to perform detail work under certain circumstances. He said the group also discussed SHARPS containers (which are used for the collection and disposal of used hypodermic syringes) which are located in various locations in the city. 
Reiskind said that the Public Service Committee nominated DeCotis for the position of vice-chair and the full JPNC approved DeCotis’s selection to that post. The next meeting of the committee is set for Tuesday evening, at 7:00 on March 5. The new and proposed bike lanes will be on the agenda. There also will be a guest from the City Transportation Dept. regarding the coming improvements to the Route 39 bus corridor, which is among the top-five most-used bus lines in the city.
Baron presented the Zoning Committee’s report. He said the committee met twice in February. He said that the committee recommended four requests for variances for which he was seeking a favorable vote from the full council:
— The addition of several dormers in order to add a bedroom and a bathroom at 18 Pond Circle. The Jamaica Hills Assoc. did not oppose the project;
—  The owner of the lot at 27 Hopkins Rd. (who also owns the adjacent single-family home) wishes to construct a new house on the vacant lot;
—  At 3510 Washington St., a one-story business block, the owner of one of the businesses, JP Kitchens restaurant, wishes to add two residential floors above his storefront. Baron said a rear neighbor was concerned about using the rear for parking for tenants, but the applicant agreed to put up a six-foot fence to block headlight glare; and
— The owner of 104 Charles St. is seeking to expand the existing structure, including the addition of a second floor. The neighbors mostly approved of the project, but a rear neighbor raised questions about the addition of a rear patio. The applicant agreed to put up a low, transparent fence to address the neighbor’s concerns.
The full JPNC voted unanimously to approve all four of the Zoning Committee’s recommendations. The owners still must go before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in order to obtain their variances.
Baron said the next meeting of the Zoning Committee is set for March 6 at which the project at 305 Chestnut Ave. will be taken up. The home, which has historical significance, at one point had been condemned, but the new owner-developer is proposing to expand the building in the rear and to preserve the historical facade. The expanded property will contain seven residential units.
Purple Reign presented the report of the Housing and Development Committee. She noted that the discussion at the committee’s February meeting centered around affordable housing and loan programs for first-time, income-qualified  home buyers. There also was an update of the Arborway Garage project. The next meeting of the committee is set for March 19.
Chaves presented the Parks Committee’s report. He updated the full committee on some upcoming events, noting that April 20 is the date for the annual Muddy River Cleanup for which volunteers are being sought. 
On March 20, there will be a Hike Boston event in Franklin Park at 10:30 in which city park rangers will lead participants in a guided hike around the park grounds. On March 14, there will be two meetings. The Boston Tree Alliance, which seeks to preserve and protect trees around the city, will meet at 1:00. Then at 6:00 in the evening, the city’s Bear Den design committee will meet.
DeCotis said the goal of the design committee is to make the area safe for dogs and walkers. The Bear Dens are an abandoned portion of the Franklin Park Zoo that held the zoo’s bear exhibit up through the early 1950s. Members discussed the Bear Den issue and offered many ideas about the future direction of the area. One newer resident of JP suggested that the area could be an off-leash dog park. Chaves informed the council  that the city’s Parks and Rec. Dept. has yet to respond to a letter sent by the committee regarding the committee’s request that the city provide lighting at local parks and playgrounds after dark.
O’Shea presented the update of the Outreach Committee in which she asked for a favorable vote for the production and distribution of flyers and business cards that she said will be aimed at reaching out to residents in order to encourage them to become involved with the JPNC and its committees. The full council approved O’Shea’s motion. The next meeting of the Outreach Committee is set for March 12.
Katie Janvier, the new assistant director of the Community and Collaborative Engagement Unit for the Boston Police Dept., introduced herself to the council members. She briefly explained her role in the department and the goals of her unit within the department.
Under new business, Welch announced that there are three open seats on the JPNC and urged local residents to consider joining the council.
The last piece of business involved a discussion of the MBTA’s Arborway Yard garage project. Sue Cibulski from the Housing and Development Committee’s Arborway Garage subcommittee updated the full JPNC about the progress of the project. 
The main thrust of the discussion centered on the MBTA’s decision to locate a 150-car parking lot for its employees within the eight acres of land that have been designated for community development purposes, a commitment that dates back to the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the MBTA in 2001.
Some members of the JPNC have voiced their opposition to the parking lot because it reduces the effective use of the eight-acres for community development purposes, especially for potential housing. The JPNC sent a letter to the T in January regarding the issue of the 150-car parking lot, but has not received a response.
The next meeting of the JPNC is set for Tuesday, March 26.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *