JPNC seeks residents for Whole Foods ad hoc committee

The next meeting of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s Whole Foods ad hoc committee will take place  Tuesday, April 12 at 7 PM at the Bowditch School, 92 Green Street.  In addition to up to five JP Neighborhood Council members, up to 10 community residents may join the committee. If interested, email us or come to the committee’s April 12 meeting.

Below is a letter from Chair Steve Laferriere explaining the committee’s charge and next steps:

As chair of the new Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Ad-Hoc Whole Foods Committee, I would like to inform you about what the Committee will be doing and invite your continued participation.

As many people are aware, after hosting two community forums, receiving numerous emails and website comments, and debating at a special meeting on March 8, the JPNC voted 9-8 to approve a motion stating in part that “based on what we know now, we are concerned that Whole Foods is not a good fit for Hyde Square.  The JPNC concurrently passed a motion to form an Ad-hoc Committee to continue to continue to gather information and to reflect the community’s voice about this important issue.

On Tuesday, March 29, the JPNC approved the following charge for its Ad-hoc Whole Foods Committee:

  1. To build off the community input the JPNC has received to date and the community input the Council continues to solicit and receive, to come up with a list of questions and concerns about the future of 415 Centre, and to explore with the community how these concerns may be addressed by the community, Whole Foods, Knapp Foods, and any other relevant actors.
  2. To generate (based on community input, historical research, research of similar situations in other neighborhoods and communities, suggestions from elected officials, and other appropriate sources) a report containing a prioritized summary of potential responses to community concerns and/or community benefits for each of the following scenarios: (1) a Whole Foods Market in the 415 Centre Street space, and (2) such other scenario(s) as the Committee may deem likely and/or feasible.  Such report shall be made to the full Council at its May 2011 meeting.
  3. To consider in what ways the JPNC may appropriately and effectively follow up on our resolution from February’s meeting and address concerns about vacant spaces, including expressing that we are open to suggestions from public, private, or non-profit entities as to how we could be helpful in exploring alternative uses of the 415 Centre St. site.
  4. To plan, organize, and implement any necessary meetings between Whole Foods representatives and the JPNC, including open community meetings.

This mandate reflects the Council’s commitment to move from the intense debate that has occurred to find common ground and explore a community vision for the type of development we want to encourage in our neighborhood.  We’ve heard many arguments from both supporters of Whole Foods and those opposed to it.  Now is the time take the concerns we’ve heard, whether about gentrification, investment in our community, jobs, or vacant retail space, and seek to generate solutions for the space at 415 Centre St., whether that space becomes a Whole Foods Market or something else.

We are looking for energetic and creative people who are interested in serving on this committee and working hard over a short period of time to find innovative solutions to bring people together and create an outcome for 415 Centre St. that a majority of our community can feel good about.  If you are interested in being a part of this committee, please do one of two things:  1) send an email to us at stating that you’d like to be on this committee or 2) attend the committee’s next meeting on Tuesday, April 12 at 7:00 PM at the Bowditch School at 82 Green St.  Council members appointed to the Committee will formalize community members’ participation early in the meeting, so please be sure to be on-time! Our by-laws permit Council committees to have up to five Council members and up to 10 additional voting community members.

Based on the mandate above, we expect the specific tasks committee members may take on to include research and writing, outreach to local business owners, planning of meetings, liaison between the Council and the city and principal parties on conditions and requirements for occupancy of the space, and continued coordination with the JPNC.

The debate around this issue is an opportunity for all of us to talk about what makes Jamaica Plain a wonderful community and to create a positive vision for the 415 Centre St. space.  Thank you to all those who have participated in this process so far, and I look forward to working with you all to continue to improve this place that we love so much.

Steve Laferriere

Gartland Street

This letter originally appeared in the Jamaica Plain Patch on April 6.

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