Letters

Thank you, District 6

I am once again humbled and honored to have been elected as your Councilor. For the sixth time, you have bestowed upon me the greatest honor of my professional life: being your voice on the Boston City Council. As your Councilor, I work for you every day — on issues big and small — to push Boston to be the best for all of us.

Many challenges confront us as a City: from development to public safety to climate resilience to strengthening public education, but I know that we can work collectively to tackle these issues and build a Better Boston.

My excitement for the job and tackling the work that lays ahead of us has only grown in my 9 years on the body. Thank you again for the support and I look forward to working with you and for you in the term ahead.
As always, if I can be of any assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to call me directly at 617-635-4220 (office) or 617-935-9752.
All my best,

Councilor Matt O’Malley

Black Lives Matter

On a cold night in December 2015, a group of engaged residents
and friends gathered in the center of JP on the lawn of the First Baptist Church for what became the first of now 48 consecutive monthly Vigils in Support of Black Lives Matter.


They listened to a speaker, then stood silently along Centre Street holding signs supporting racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Trayvon Martin had been killed in February 2012 and his killer exonerated a year and a half later, launching demonstrations across the country. Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, triggering similar demonstrations and protests. Cell phone videos and news reports of unarmed people of color being shot and killed circulated on social media, waking many white people to a reality of life much too familiar to black and brown communities. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in this time period to draw attention to the unequal treatment of people of color in our society, too often resulting in their deaths.

Four years after that first Vigil, the acute threat of racist violence directed against black and brown people has only increased in the shadow of the newly emboldened white supremacy movement, and support for communities of color is more important than ever. We invite everyone in JP and beyond to join us for the December 5 Vigil in Support of Black Lives Matter at 5:30 pm on the lawn of the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain (633 Centre Street) as we begin the fifth year of these monthly standouts for racial justice. Held from 5:30-6:30 pm on the first Thursday of each month, the Vigil includes: a message from a speaker representing an organization working on the issues promoted by the Black Lives Matter Movement; a call and response reading of the names of some of the people lost to racist violence; and a 20 minute silent standout along Centre Street.

The non-denominational vigils are organized by a small planning group and are open to all. Through the vigils each month, we hope to create:
• a regular presence to show support for and solidarity with Black Lives Matter
• a space to come together in community to take a stand for racial justice and against white supremacy and white nationalism
• an opportunity to denounce the racist murders of black and brown lives
We invite any and all to join us. Vigil in Support of Black Lives Matter Planning GroupJulie Boss, Mary Lenihan, Bonnie McBride, Penny Wells
On Facebook: Vigil in Support of Black Lives Matter To be added to our notifications email list (names will not be shared), please email:
Mary Lenihan at [email protected] We have signs and posters for the standout at the Vigil…or bring your own!

Dogs are More Important Than People?

Recently, while I was sitting in front of Caffe Nero, a young man came and tied his medium-sized dog to a post near the door. People entering or exiting the café had to step over or around the dog. When the owner emerged ten minutes later, I suggested that in the future he might tie his dog somewhere else because some people are afraid of dogs. His reply, “They ought to get over it.”

Not every dog owner is that arrogant and unconcerned with others’ feelings and fears, and most pet owners love and take care of their animals, but too many act as if their dog has a right to annoy others. Many people have good reasons for fearing dogs. Forty people a year (mostly toddlers) are killed by pet dogs. Thousands more are bitten. I’ve been a dog owner and I love them, but I’ve been bitten twice, and I still bear a scar on my arm 65 years after one attack.

In front of the café, people allow their dogs to pee against the tree a few feet from where I eat. When I ask them to not allow that, they generally get defensive. “My dog has every right to pee on public property.” No concern for my disgust at this behavior. One man let his dog pee on the corner of the building two feet from where I was sitting. He became indignant and ranted at me when I complained. These are not isolated examples. How many signs have you seen that ask owners not to let dogs pee on their plants?
In Hong Kong, a densely populated city, owners must carry water to wash down the pee. Large fines await violators. It took pooper scooper laws to bring the many irresponsible dog owners around here in line, and now it’s rare to see dog shit smearing sidewalks and lawns. Maybe we need laws like they have in Hong Kong to civilize dog owners. Or are dogs really more important than people?

Gustaf Berger

More on 701 Centre Street….

We are writing to give an update to our efforts with regard to 701 Centre Street/ Chase Bank storefront alterations, and to bring greater awareness to this issue so that a required design review and proper remedy can occur.
We are extremely grateful to those who have come forward with expressions of support and encouragement. To date, this includes
the following organizations and/ or members within such groups or organizations: Councilor Matt O’Malley, JP Neighborhood Council (JPNC), JP Centre South Main Streets (JPCSMS), Jamaica Pond Association
(JPA), Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association
(JPBAPA), JP Historical Society, Boston Preservation Alliance, Boston Landmarks Commission, and many other individual residents of the JP community.

Over the past two weeks we have met with the building owner, and with officials at the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). We have reached out to the Mayor’s Office, other elected officials and Chase Bank as well, and we are awaiting responses. We were able to view drawings and documents originally submitted for permit and see changes were made to the scope of work during construction, and without review or approval of ISD. Upon recognizing this, ISD has suspended work on the project pending receipt of required permit amendment documents.

After review of details of the work in place, the BDPA has confirmed that the work performed meets the threshold for a required design review under specific language and criteria in Article 80 of the zoning code, and has given guidance to ISD to make the necessary determination
for a review.

Moreover, the intent of the code is clear. The purpose of a ‘Design Overlay District’ is to safeguard historically significant buildings that may not otherwise have protection in the zoning code, or be protected through other means. The authors of the zoning map in Jamaica Plain understood that 701 Centre is a historically significant building in the district, one of the few remaining (once intact) midnineteenth century commercial structures
that once and still do define the urban streetscape in this neighborhood. They were right to include it in the design overlay.

Design guidelines in the code are clear with regard to treatment
of such buildings undergoing alterations, specifically:
Article 55, 55-36(2); (g): “…deteriorated architectural features should be repaired rather than replaced…repair or replacement of missing architectural features should be based…on accurate duplication
of original features…”

These are the relevant guideposts for a design review that should form the basis of a remedy to what has happened at 701 Centre Street. It is now up to ISD to initiate a design review once they receive permit amendment documents from the applicant. This review, to be conducted by the BPDA, should include participation of the community. The code recognizes community participation not only in development of the zoning article itself, but in its continued success (Article 55-6). Accordingly, we have asked that the community be invited to participate in the design review process for 701 Centre Street. We would like to hear from those out there who would not only be interested in participating in this review, but who might be interested in the establishment of a community forum for architectural design review for future projects requiring review in JP.

To these ends, we look forward to assisting the BPDA going forward.
701 Centre Street represents an opportunity for the city to demonstrate to the community that its input remains critical to the success of land use regulations and to insure clarity and confidence in future zoning and permitting processes not only in JP, but throughout the city.

Michael Epp, FAIA
[email protected]
Edward P. Forte
AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
[email protected]
Gert D. Thorn,
AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
[email protected]

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