"You're the ambassadors with us" is how Lara Merida, Deputy Director for Community Planning at the BRA, described the Plan JP/ROX Washington St Advisory Group convened Thursday night at Brookside Neighborhood Health Center community room.
Twenty five people from one end of Jamaica Plain to the other: Bromley Heath to Forest Hills; Walnut Avenue to West Walnut Park have been selected to do nothing less than "plan for the future of a neighborhood", said Marie Mercurio, Senior BRA planner for Jamaica Plain. " Where do you want [his area] to be in 5 - 10 years?"
Julieanne Doherty representing Mayor Walsh, as the neighborhood services liaison for Jamaica Plain, set the tone immediately by standing at the door and greeting everyone who arrived. " On behalf of the mayor", she said after the meeting opened " a huge warm welcome. Thank you for your devotion. Thank you for helping to make JP a better place".
Mercurio asked everyone to give their name but she added" tell us what your expertise is. What can you bring to the group? What are you good at?"
"The mayor really challenged us to reform how we run our policies." Your knowledge can help us do that.
The group was diverse: from public housing tenant to condo owner; housing advocate, health care, community organizing, music, architecture, planning, demographic research, business owner, merchant, builder and real estate to name few.
"This is a pilot." said Mercurio. "We're trying different things out."
She said the first workshop will be on Sept 30 at English High School. " We're not calling it a public meeting we're calling them workshops."
She said the first workshop would be divided into three main themes. "This is not development review," She said. " Its planning 101. What are the core values to guide growth in the neighborhood?"
Those themes are:
Community sustainability: housing and displacement
Economic development: jobs and business growth
Land use development : How big . How tall
"There will be nine tables," Mercurio said. "Each theme will be discussed at each table They will rotate. Every 20 minutes."
She asked thew advisory group members stay at each table,"We need people with leadership ability to keep the workshops under control."
In answer to a question, Mercurio said that the scope is 6 months of regular meetings to review and analyze priorities that will result in the revision of the zoning code for the study area. This will take an additional 5 months.
" This is now the opportunity," Mercurio said. " Underlying zoning will be a set of core values. Developers will come [ to the BRA] and will be told 'these are the goals being set right' Developers will not want to go against those core values".
The first public workshop for Plan JP/Rox Washington Street will be on
Wednesday. Sept 30 2015 at English High School cafeteria. 6pm.
Project website: http://bit.ly/planjprox
Marie Mercurio Senior Planner Jamaica Plain: firstname.lastname@example.org