JPNC Hears Reports From Its Committees

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) held its regular monthly meeting this past Tuesday evening via Zoom. The council members tackled a full agenda over the course of the 100-minute meeting.

Vice-chair Bernard Doherty helmed the session that was attended by fellow members Peg Preble, Renee Stacey Welch, Michael Reiskind, Paige Sparks, Sarah Freeman, Lorenzo Bartoloni, Peter DeCotis, David Baron, Trevor Wissink-Adams, Danielle Sommer-Kieta, and Ben Weber.

Doherty announced that there presently is an open seat on the council in Area C and asked if there were any potential candidates.

Jeff Paquette stepped up. Paquette said he has been a JP resident for 27 years and that he and his wife Heidi have raised their two college-age children in Jamaica Plain.

“We’re really indebted for all that JP has offered to us,” said Paquette, who works in the non-profit sector in the Boston area.

The council members unanimously voted to elect Paquette to the council.

Resident Dana Gonsalves announced that the annual meeting of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp. will be held on Saturday, May 20, from 11-1 at the Merriam St. parking lot at the Samuel Adams Brewery at 284 Amory St. He said there will be raffles, food trucks, and a petting zoo for kids. “It will be a lot of fun and all are welcome,” said Gonsalves.

The council then heard reports from the chairs of its various committees.

Sparks, who is the chair of the Outreach Committee, spoke about the upcoming JPNC election on Saturday, June 24. Sparks walked her fellow council members through the wealth of information that is available for candidates on the JPNC’s website.

Welch, the chair of the Housing and Development Committee, noted that three new members were approved by the committee. The trio are JPNC member Weber and two Community Members, Willie Mitchell and Esther Belliard, both of whom have been long-time, active members of the JP community.

Welch asked that the full JPNC ratify the committee’s selections, which the council did by a unanimous vote.

Baron, the chair of the Zoning Committee, spoke of the three matters that came before the Zoning Committee this past month, all of which received the Zoning Committee’s approval.

The first was the application at 87 and 91 Parkton Rd., two multi-family properties in common ownership that are being fully renovated by the owner, who came before the committee seeking to put in a shared driveway with parking in the rear.

He said one of the neighbors objected to cars being parked where she can see them from her rear porch. The owner agreed to install a buffer in the form of screening.

The second matter concerned 11 Plainfield St., where the owner is asking for a variance to construct a shed dormer to extend a bedroom. There was no opposition by neighbors.

The third application pertained to 272-276 Hyde Park Ave., at the corner of Eldridge Ave., which is the location of J&G’s Market convenience store. The owner is seeking to expand the convenience store slightly (within the existing footprint) and to add three stories of residential apartments on top of the store to create six new residential units. The height of the building will line up with the four-story building next door.

“There was a shocking amount of support for this project from the community,” noted Baron, who said the residents were happy to see that the market, which remained open to serve the community during the height of the pandemic, will remain in operation.

Baron said one neighbor raised a question about parking, but the owner said that the present five parking spaces in the rear of the building will be available for the new tenants, not for customers of the store.

Baron asked that all three of the Zoning Committee’s affirmative votes be approved by the full JPNC, which the members did unanimously. The owners of those properties now must go before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals in order to obtain their variances.

Baron said the Zoning Committee will be meeting three times in May, starting on May 3. Items on the agenda for the May 3 meeting include: 21 Louders Lane, for a second floor addition with solar panels; 31 Rodman St.,  which entails the renovation of a two-family home and the construction of a three-story addition in the rear to convert it into two condo units; 10 and 10A Walk Hil St., the location of Round Two Pizza, which is seeking permission for take-out service that formerly existed with the previous business; and the proposed project at 176 and 176R School St., in which the owner is seeking permission to construct a new, seven-unit, residential townhouse building with covered parking.

Reiskind, the chair of the Public Service Comm., discussed the presentation by the Mass. Water Resources Authority (MWRA) of its plans for a tunneling project, 400-500 feet under Jamaica Plain, in order to install a new water pipeline that will run alongside the current pipes that is 50-70 years old.

“These will be redundant tunnels and when the new system is installed, the MWRA will replace the aging valves on the old pipes,” Reiskind told the council. He said there will be a vertical boring on South St. near the American Legion Post that will have an impact locally “for a good amount of time.” The completion of the project is slated for 2034 with an anticipated start date in late-2025/early-2026.

Reiskind mentioned two items that will be coming before the committee at its next meeting on May 2. The first is an application for an alcohol license by Fritay, a new Haitian restaurant at 660A Centre St. The second is a request by Seed, a cannabis dispensary, for an amendment to its license to allow for a delivery permit.

Reiskind also added that the committee elected DeCotis as a new member and asked the full JPNC to ratify his selection, which the council did by a unanimous vote.

Prior to the meeting’s adjournment, Sparks noted that this Saturday, April 29, there will be the annual Love Your Block clean-up event starting at the Stony Brook T station at 9:00. Those who gather will make a loop in the area.

She also noted the annual Wake up the Earth event is slated for May 6 and will include activities for children.

DeCotis mentioned that there will be another neighborhood landscaping/clean-up event this Saturday, April 29, at 10:00 at Lawson Park, which is being organized by the Egleston Square Committee.

Freeman noted that the recent Muddy River Cleanup at Franklin Park was a great success that drew a large crowd, including a contingent from District 6 Councilor Kendra Lara’s office.

Finally, William King, a candidate for District 6 City Councilor, addressed the council regarding his candidacy.

The next meeting of the JPNC is set for May 23 at 7:00.

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