JPNC discusses members election; fills three vacant seats

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met virtually on Feb. 23, where members discussed updates from the committees, decided to postpone their upcoming election, and voted in three new council members.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMITTEE

Public Service Committee chair Michael Reiskind reported that Top Mix Bar and Kitchen JP came before the committee asking for a 7-day common victualler all-alcohol license with a closing hour of 11:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and 2:00am, on Friday and Saturday, a seasonal outdoor patio with 20 seats, and an entertainment license for five TVs and up to three live performers.

Reiskind said this proposal is “similar to The Frogmore,” and Joseph Correia would be the manager. He also said that the same layout would be kept, with the “bar on one side, and the restaurant on the other.” 

He said that there were concerns with noise or the “potential for noise,” and concerns about trash pickup. Reiskind said that Correia promised there would be no trash pickup after 11:00pm and before 7:00am

The JPNC voted to approve this request with the proviso that the applicant come back to the community for a meeting within six months of opening.

ZONING COMMITTEE

Zoning Committee Chair Dave Baron reported that there were four matters heard by the Zoning Committee in February. As previously reported by the Gazette, they include proposals at 3326-3328 Washington St., 3371-3375 Washington St., 14 Meehan St., and 11 Danforth St. 

At 3326-3328 Washington St., the proposal is to construct a new 43 unit residential building—10 of which are affordable units—which was approved by the full Council on Tuesday evening.

The proposal at 3371-3375 Washington St. by the JPNDC and New Atlantic Development to build a five story building with 39 units of affordable senior housing and a commercial space for El Embajador restaurant was approved by the JPNC Executive Committee, but the Zoning Board of Appeal on Tuesday approved it before it reached the full Council. 

At 14 Meehan St., the proposal is to change the occupancy of the building from a one unit building with artist studio and garage to an office in the basement and first floor and two residential units, and add a roof deck and off-street parking. There was some contention in the Stonybrook neighborhood around this proposal, but the JPNC voted to approve it with the proviso that there are “assurances of screening and buffering at the developer’s expense for the parking area,” as recommended by the Zoning Committee. 

The proposal at 11 Danforth St. was to renovate the attic space for Unit 3 to create two bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as add an interior stair. The JPNC approved the project at the recommendation of the committee. 

DISCUSSION OF ELECTION

Members of the JPNC engaged in discussion about their upcoming election that was scheduled for the end of April.

Outreach Committee Chair Max Glikman said that there is “obviously still a global pandemic happening,” and called for a vote on whether or not to postpone the election for a second time. 

The members discussed potential safety protocols that could be put in place, such as collecting signatures online and campaigning using social media, and the outreach committee said that they are “ready to begin the voting process” should that be the route desired by the full Council.

“It’s difficult to separate it from COVID,” JPNC member Gert Thorn said. He said it is difficult to tell “people who we are and what we do; what we’re all about,” and suggested postponing the election to late summer. 

“How do we reach them?” he asked. “That’s my concern overall.”

JPNC member Carolyn Royce said “I hear a lot of what Gert’s saying,” but she said that waiting until the end of the summer or even later would mean that kids are back in school, and people will start to think seriously about the mayoral and council elections that are upcoming this fall. 

Glikman said that while campaigning can be done online, the “election itself would be in person,” though there would be an option to mail in a ballot or drop it off at Curtis Hall. He also said that people could still “walk around and talk to people as long as you’re six feet away,” though this still probably isn’t the best option, he said.

Thorn said he feels it is “impolite” to go door to door during the pandemic.

After further discussion and back and forth about which month would work best based on vaccination availability and the potential for pope to start traveling again, the JPNC voted to postpone their election until July, and revisit the topic in April for further discussion on preparation. 

NEW MEMBERS

After announcing vacancies for three different seats on the Council, the JPNC welcomed Pratik Dubey, Brandon Iizuka, and Robert Kordenbrock as members on Monday night.

Dubey is a graduate student at Northeastern University studying public policy, and he has worked for Council President Kim Janey as her constituent services specialist. He said he also campaigned as a housing justice organizer at Northeastern, and he is interested in housing and development as well as zoning issues.

Brandon Iizuka worked with Dubey in Councilor Janey’s office, and currently services as a legislative aide to Rep. Chynah Tyler. He said he is a “strong advocate for language access and affordable housing,” and is “grateful for any opportunity to get involved in my local community.” 

Robert Kordenbrock lives in JP with his wife and son, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Fenway Community Center. Before that, Kordenbrock said he “worked in a variety of different nonprofit settings,” and has experience working with elected officials. He said he and his family intend on living in the neighborhood “for the long term, and he wants “to make a positive impact on the neighborhood.” 

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