The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) met for its monthly meeting on November 4, where they heard an update from State Rep. Nika Elugardo as well as other updates to previously discussed issues.
Officer William Jones said that crime continues to remain low in the neighborhood. There has been some issues with kids between the ages of 12 and 14 assaulting people near the Southwest Corridor Park. He said that the kids were taken into the station and their parents notified, and Elugardo has requested that elected officials of color speak with them and mentor them. She said that some of the incidents are related to the kids trying to get food or money for food because they were hungry, and this is being investigated further to see how the community can help.
Elugardo also spoke briefly about what she’s been working on at the State House, which includes a housing bill that would go along with Governor Baker’s bill regarding changes in the votes needed to make amendments to zoning laws, which would allow for easier building of housing developments in certain zones. She also spoke about the education legislation that recently passed, as well as some other legislation regarding rent control in Massachusetts.
Councilor Matt O’Malley also stopped by, and chimed in on a question that came up in light of Michelle Wu’s recent announcement of her desire to abolish Boston Planning and Development Agency. Elugardo said she doesn’t believe the BPDA should go away completely, but thinks there needs to be some changes made to the agency.
“Abolishing something is incendiary,” O’Malley agreed. He said that while he thinks Wu’s proposal is a good one and one that is well-thought out, a “clear delineation between planning and development is key.” He said he also believes the entire city needs to be rezoned as well.
A few months ago, the JPA heard a proposal for 61 Arborway, also known as “The Castle.” The proposal is to subdivide the lot at 61 Arborway, keep the existing single family, and erect a new two-family home. JPA Chair Rosemary Jones said that since JP Mayor’s Liaison Enrique Pepen’s departure, there has not been a new one appointed and therefore there has not been an abutter’s meeting scheduled yet. Once that abutter’s meeting is held, the Jamaica Hills Association will take a vote on the project, and then the JPA.
Parks Plus Shattuck Meeting
JPA member Micah Sachs gave an update on the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Parks Plus Committee’s recent community meeting regarding the Shattuck Campus. Sachs reported that some people at the meeting felt that the master planning process was moving too fast and their voices were not being heard. He said there were about 35 people in attendance, but no elected officials or officials from state agencies related to the process.
The meeting provided an overview of the site, as well as what is proposed and where in the process the project currently is. Sachs said that the master planning process is close to being over, and will be issued in December of this year. After the state approves the plan, a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued sometime next year, and will call for respondents with public and private funding for public health uses on the site.
Sachs said that there were a lot of people who wished to see the space returned to Franklin Park, but that opinion was not shared by everyone. He said there were questions about what additional public uses will be put there.
He said there will be a series of opportunities for public input after the RFP is issued, and m maybe before then as well, but “the ship has largely sailed” for input into the master plan.
JPA member Michael Reiskind gave an update on the JP Business and Professional Association, of which he is also a member. He said at their last meeting, they had a presentation from the City of Boston’s Disability Commission about increasing accessibility for restaurants in urban areas.
“BAPA and JP Centre/South is working on that strongly,” Reiskind said. He said that Boston’s Age Strong Commission is also working to increase age friendliness in businesses as well, and the two agencies are working on having these two ideas work together so they can be certified at the same time. Improvements to businesses include having high top as well as low top seating, as well as the level of noise and light inside restaurants.
The holiday lighting display that will be projected onto the City Feed building now has a committee working on the design, and Reiskind said that members of JP Centre/South, BAPA, and JPA are all invited to work alongside the consultants on the design.
701 Centre St.
The JPA has concerns about new windows that were put in place of historic ones at 701 Centre St., former home to Bukhara’s Restaurant, soon to be a Chase bank. Reiskind said the building is not landmarked, but it is in a neighborhood design overlay district. He said that the building was supposed to have protections but it did not go through any process regarding the installation of the new windows. “It should have come up for community review,” Reiskind said.
“We’ll see what, if anything, can be done about this,” Rosemary Jones said. She said an inquiry has been left for BPDA Senior Planner Kristina Ricco regarding this matter.