35 Pond Circle

We have been residents of Jamaica Plain for almost 30 years and have had the pleasure of residing across the street from a beautiful remnant of JP’s era of opulent country estates.  The lot at 35 Pond Circle is 31,154 square feet and contains an historic carriage house with accompanying open space, old stone walls and several large trees and in particular, a magnificent oak which arches over the street and is a prominent feature of a special Jamaica Plain streetscape.   The carriage house was constructed in 1902 and is the only structure remaining from the estate of Elizabeth Rice.  The back side of the property borders Billings Lane, a private road with several garages on one side and two new homes on the other.

The long standing owner/residents of 35 Pond Circle recently received a Boston zoning variance which allows them to subdivide their lot and build a new home alongside the existing carriage house.  The plan calls for accessing the new house via Pond circle which would require both cutting an opening in a stone wall and removal of the large oak tree.  If the city of Boston had a statute protecting significant trees on private property, as currently exists in many other cities, this tree would certainly qualify.  Alternatively, access via Billings Lane would require neither altering the wall nor removing the oak and would thus be much less destructive to a beautiful and historic JP streetscape.

When queried about a Billings Lane approach, the response was that this option was evaluated and deemed not possible without any specific reason why.  We do not object to the subdivision per se or to the construction of a new house.  Rather, our opposition relates to the failure to convey a cogent explanation as to why the Billings Lane approach is not workable.  If access via Billings lane is feasible, we would support any zoning variances that would be required to allow it to proceed.

Twelve Pond Circle residents recently signed a letter in support of this position.  We feel that when brought to the attention of the greater JP community, any additional support may help ensure that the Billings Lane approach is fully and transparently vetted.  Please visit Pond Circle and Billings Lane to fully appreciate what’s at stake.

Gary Dobkin ([email protected])

Bonita Oehlke

Jamaica Plain residents

National Grid lockout of workers needs to end

My guess is that the majority of residents of Jamaica Plain have been aware over the past few years of the many times Centre and surrounding streets have been torn up and re-paved by gas-line workers. Some are replacing old infrastructure. Others are the National Grid union workers who are repairing the many thousands of gas leaks throughout the city of Boston or installing new gas lines for all the many apartment houses, etc.

We are also all most likely aware of the lockout of 1,250 trained, skilled, experienced gas workers in United Steelworkers Locals #12003 and 12012 being locked out of work since June by National Grid.

The use of gas in our homes is a very dangerous thing. We hear occasionally of an explosion here or there and have trepidation but continue to use this volatile fossil fuel for our heating and cooking needs while we ought to be moving toward renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal sources for safe electric heating, cooling and cooking.

However, we do need to repair what is broken while we make this transition so it’s past time for National Grid to end this lockout.

This lockout has put us at risk to the type of dangerous explosions that occurred in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover.

Columbia Gas-MA, a subsidiary of NiSource, the utility responsible for the event, has pulled all non-union workers into the repair work while the skilled locked-out union workers are still unavailable.

Residents of Woburn confronted a gas shutdown due to a very similar situation that, thankfully, did not turn into a disaster. Too much pressure from a large pipe into a smaller pipe by a non-union worker employed by National Grid put residents into a very scary place.

National Grid says they are holding out because they don’t want ratepayers to have to pay more because the workers are asking that all employees continue to have a pension rather than move to 401(k) plans and to maintain their health benefits.

I know the importance of a pension. I am a retired electrician from Local #103 IBEW. My pensions serve me. They are fixed and secure and I can count on them monthly to be the same.

MarketWatch in May 2018 says, “National Grid PLC said Thursday that its fiscal 2018 pretax profit rose 24% …. The utility company made a pretax profit of 2.71 billion pounds ($3.66 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2018 compared with GBP2.18 billion a year earlier. The company said its profit after tax was GBP3.59 billion, reflecting a GBP1.51 billion tax credit relating to the reduction in the US federal corporation tax rate.”

For National Grid to claim their only concern is the ratepayer is disingenuous at best. It is clear, to me and maybe you as well, that their interest is continuing to increase their profit margin at the cost of public safety and worker health and welfare.

The workers say: “Public safety is not a bargaining chip”. I agree. End the lockout!

Sara Driscoll
Jamaica Plain

JP’s Centre Street

Has anyone noticed how clean (almost spotless) the JP sidewalks and streets have become in recent weeks?  The Department of Public Works has been showing up like never before and one particular employee, Mike Cosby, is a key reason for the transformation.  This man is motivated and you can see it when he stoops to pick up the smallest piece of litter.  You can’t walk by him without an enthusiastic greeting … almost as if he’s running for office.  No, it’s just a man who likes his work, takes pride in his accomplishments, and clearly loves people.  So, next time you see Mike on the street doing his bit to keep JP sidewalks free of litter (cigarette butts, scratch tickets, etc.), give him a shout out, not to mention his fellow employees whose job it is to make our downtown shopping areas more inviting.

Michel L. Spitzer

Jamaica Plain resident

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