The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) held their monthly meeting on Feb. 4, where a wide variety of topics were discussed, including a possible “Walk the Jamaicaway” day, and traffic calming measures on Bynner Street.
First on the agenda was a public safety update from Boston Police Department District 13 Officer William Jones. Jones said that 2018 was “one of the best years we’ve had in 10 years” in Jamaica Plain for crime, and that robberies, motor vehicle larcenies, and motor vehicle break-ins were all down.
“Crime continues to go in the right direction,” he said, but it is not gone. From the beginning of 2019 until now, there have been four robberies in the district as opposed to three in the same period of time last year. There have also been 13 residential break-ins so far as opposed to four last year, Jones added.
So far this year, there have been two shootings in the district—the two individuals who shot each other in Egleston Square—which is up from one in this period of time last year.
Jones (and officers across the city) urge people to call 911 if they see suspicious behavior and describe what they see. “The more that people pay attention to our environment, I think that drives our crime down,” Jones said.
WALK THE JAMAICAWAY DAY
A big topic of discussion at the meeting was the possibility of having a “Walk the Jamaicaway” day where traffic would be cut on the Jamaicaway one Sunday a month this summer. The idea is to give people more space to get outside with strollers, skateboards, rollerblades, and the like.
Though the idea was generally supported by the JPA, several members had concerns and suggestions to tweak the idea.
JPA member Michael Reiskind said that he’s “all for” the idea, but he thinks closing Memorial Drive would work the best because there is a parallel route that could handle all the traffic that would have to be detoured. He said that the Jamaicaway does not have such an easy parallel route. Alternatively, he said that Francis Parkman Drive could be closed, in which case the Jamaicaway becomes the parallel route.
“I’m concerned about the genesis of this,” said JPA member Andre Jones. His argument was that the Emerald Necklace is already a park, and that closing the Jamaicaway one Sunday a month would just be an expansion of the park. “It’s heavily utilized now,” he said of the park. “I don’t think the cost of [closing the Jamaicaway] is justified.”
Lifelong JP resident and JPA member Ed Burley said that he thinks the idea is “interesting,” but he suggested not committing to more than one Sunday at first. “I think the programming is key,” he added, saying that the closing of the Jamaicaway should coincide with something like a music festival or other event that would draw a lot of people. “That would make it work the effort.” Others agreed that doing a pilot with just one Sunday is a good idea. A few volunteers offered to explore the idea further and are going to meet to come up with a more solidified plan of action, and reach out to the city and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
SIGNAGE ON THE JAMAICAWAY BEHIND THE GODDARD HOUSE
Some JPA members have expressed their dissatisfaction with signage along the Jamaicaway behind the Goddard House, as they feel that it is unsightly. Jones said that she met with Noah Maslin, the site manager for Eden Properties, a developer for the Goddard House redevelopment. Jones said that Maslin said the sign must remain up as long as there is construction going on, and that it is “not likely” to come down until May or June. Jones added that she has done some research herself, and while she is not a lawyer, “it looked to me like they weren’t violating any regulations,” she said. She said that she is going to follow up with the Parks Commission and DCR to see if there is anything in their language that prohibits that kind of signage.
SAFETY UPDATES ON ARBORWAY, JAMAICAWAY
JPA member Peter Elmuts said that he has received statistics from the state regarding car accidents in and around the Arborway, Jamaicaway, Murray Circle and Kelley Circle. The DCR and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy hosted a public meeting in October at which they announced their plans for safety and access improvements on the Arborway.
“Where do we go from here?” Elmuts said. “We get the data, but what is the next step if there is a next step? How do we prevent car crashes?”
After some discussion, The JPA unanimously voted to send a letter to the DCR and copy elected officials on the email, asking that they hold a meeting that would be attended by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, the JPA, DCR Commissioner, and several elected officials. At this meeting, the JPA would like the status for the safety improvement project plans to be reviewed. JPA said they would blend the crash data from the state and the already announced plans into the letter.
Reiskind made the clarification that they would not be putting the ideas of the crash data and the plans together, because the number of accidents might be average. JPA agreed that this project needs to go forth despite the number of accidents, as they are very unhappy with the state of that area. “We want this done wether the accident rate has gone up or down,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be a worse number of accidents to ask for improvements,” JPA member Kevin Moloney said.
BYNNER STREET NEIGHBORHOOD TRAFFIC CALMING COMMITTEE
JPA Chairperson Rosemary Jones gave an update of a meeting regarding traffic calming on Bynner St. that was held on January 24 with members of an ad hoc committee and city and state officials that included City Councilor Matt O’Malley and Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services liaison Alexandra Valdez.
Jones said that Valdez arranged the meeting with city traffic and parking officials as well as the state traffic engineer from DCR.
The group “met up at the jammed intersection of South Huntington and Bynner,” Jones reported, and people who live on the street talked about what they had to deal with.
JP resident Catherine Barreiro, who attended the meeting, said that she wasn’t sure if any progress was made. She said that there is “just no enforcement on the J-way,” and that was a big topic of discussion. She said that people speed and people turn left where they are not supposed to, and that a suggestion for “No Through Street” signs might be appropriate.
Rosemary Jones said that the “folks from the city and state were clear that communication should go through Alex Valdez,” and that they need to send a list of issues to her in order to get some possible solutions from the city and the state.
“We have to agree on three or four main problems and three or four main solutions, one for each, and ask [officials] to start these or ask them why they can’t do them,” Reiskind said.
Kevin Moloney came up with the idea of having the city and the state do the work of coming up with the solutions to the problems, some of which include congestion on Bynner St. during the evening rush as well as crashes on the Jamaicaway during left turns.
The JPA decided that an ad-hoc group would continue this discussion and focus the ideas more before Rosemary Jones drafts a follow-up letter to Alexandra Valdez. The next JPA meeting will be on Monday, March 4 at 7:00pm at the Jamaicaway Tower.