JPNC seeks to engage JP residents to become more diverse, inclusive

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) held its regular monthly meeting this past Tuesday via Zoom. The meeting consisted principally of reports from the JPNC’s committees.

Katherine O’Shea, chair of the Outreach Committee, presented her report, which led to a larger discussion of how the JPNC can engage a wider cross-section of JP residents. All of the members agreed that the JPNC must figure out how to reach out to the larger JP community in order to be more-inclusive of those who might wish to become engaged with the goings-on of the council.

Members offered various ideas for doing so, though the full committee did not take any formal action on the matter.

Michael Reiskind presented the report of the Public Service Committee. He said the committee supported a request from Stoked Pizza JP, 3484 Washington Street (the former site of the legendary Doyle’s Pub) for a common victuallers and 7-day all alcoholic beverages licenses with a closing hour of 2:00 a.m. that will include an outdoor seasonal roof deck for 90 patrons. Entertainment will consist solely of four TV sets.

Reiskind said there was a large attendance of 38 residents who supported the request. He said Stoked Pizza has two other locations in Brookline and Cambridge. He also noted that the construction of the building that will house the restaurant will not be completed until 2025, but that Stoked is seeking its liquor license now in the hope of obtaining one by its move-in date.

JPNC member Gert Thorn expressed reservations about the rooftop patio because of the noise that will impact the new residential building being constructed nearby, though a resident stated that the noise will be shielded by architectural features of the rooftop area.

Reiskind suggested that the council could allow the outdoor patio (which will be seasonal from April to October), but with the proviso that the issue be reviewed within six months of the restaurant’s opening.

JPNC vice-chair Bernie Doherty voiced a concern about the lack of parking at the restaurant (25 off-street spaces) that could impact the adjacent neighborhood. However, JPNC member Lorenzo Bartoloni noted that there are nearby public parking lots.

The full JPNC voted to accept the Public Service Committee’s recommendation, with the amendment that the outdoor patio will be reviewed after the first six months of operation

The next matter presented by Reiskind was the transfer of the beer & wine license of Miami Restaurant at 381 Centre Street. He said that the long-time owner is selling the business and the new owners are asking for an extension of the closing hours from the current 11:00 p.m. to a new time of 1:00 a.m. on Thursday through Sunday nights.

However, no action was necessary by the full JPNC because the Executive Committee held an emergency meeting (because of a time constraint related to the city’s Licensing Commission) and already had approved the request.

Nick Chaves presented the report of the Parks Committee. He spoke about the request by local residents for lighting in the evening hours at local playgrounds. He said the committee sent a letter to city and state officials and the committee is awaiting a response.

Thorn asked that the committee look into posting signs around Jamaica Pond to address the problem of bicyclists using the paths around the pond (which is not allowed) with the result that pedestrians have been injured.

Doherty echoed the point, noting that young children and dogs on leashes are vulnerable to speeding bicyclists.

Resident Michael Epps asked that the Parks Committee address the proposals for White Stadium and the former Shattuck Hospital, which he said will have a great impact on the residents of Jamaica Plain. Thorn also questioned the proposed use of White Stadium by the new Boston professional women’s soccer team that will be arriving in 2026.

Dave Baron presented the report of the Zoning Committee. He said the committee approved one of two requests for variances and asked that the full JPNC approve the committee’s recommendation.

The variances approved by the committee pertained to the home at 470 Centre Street for a rear deck on the second floor with a parking space under. The proposal requires variances because of the lack of the required rear and side yard setbacks. Baron said that a neighbor showed up at the meeting and did not express an objection. The full committee gave its endorsement of the Zoning Committee’s recommendation.

The second matter pertained to 22 Rockview Street for a subdivision of the lot to construct two small, single-family homes. Baron said many area residents opposed the project, citing the hazards of excavating ledge that will be needed for the project. However, proponents of the proposal cited the need for affordable housing. Baron said that the Zoning Committee voted neither to deny nor to approve the request, and therefore there was nothing for the full JPNC to consider.

The owners of both properties now must go before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to obtain their variances.

Purple Reign presented the report of the Housing and Development/Arborway Yard Committee. She said that the committee members discussed the impacts of the White Stadium proposal. She also said there was further discussion about the ongoing MBTA’s Arborway Garage project, which will house 200 of the T’s future electric bus fleet. The full JPNC last month approved sending a letter to MBTA and city officials expressing their concern about the potential impacts upon the community of the new garage, as well as demanding that the T and city adhere to the original Memorandum of Understanding from 2001 that commits eight acres on the site for community development purposes. The T’s plans presently call for a parking lot for 150 cars for T employees within the eight acres, a proposal that has drawn the ire of many of the veteran JPNC members. Doherty and resident Ken Pope both expressed their concern with the haste that the T is moving forward on the garage without sufficient community input.

Toward the conclusion of the meeting, it was noted that there are three vacancies on the council at the present time and members of the community who are interested in filling the spots are urged to contact the council.

Under new business, there was a discussion on the controversial issue of saving a much-beloved, 150 year-old oak tree in the rear of 72 Hyde Park Ave. where there is a new construction project. Ken Pope and his wife Tess, whose home on Wenham St. abuts the rear of 72 Hyde Park Ave., said that currently, the status of the tree is in limb(o), though it would appear at this time that the developer has agreed not to remove the tree.

The next meeting of the council is set for February 27.

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