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 at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com 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.
I appreciate Dave and other JPNC members doing outreach about this ad hoc committee, since that's what the Council has decided to do. But I don't understand how this or any committee can "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," given the hard, inescapable fact that Whole Foods has signed a 20-year lease and is currently rennovating the building with plans to open later this year. Just substitute the Stop & Shop or the CVS or the Utra Hair Salon for the Whole Foods building in this committee charge to see how bizarre this venture is.
415 Centre St. is not a vacant property. There are, however, numerous truly vacant retail properties in Hyde and Jackson Squares that could benefit enormously from the community process described above. I would ask the JPNC to reconsider the mandate for the ad hoc committee so that it instead focuses on these vacant spaces. This way, the committee's work will actually help our neighborhood.
Thank you Gretchen for this level headed comment. I wish the JPNC was full of insightful folks like you.
Are these Neighborhood Council people delusional? They still haven't acknowledged that there is a legal agreement between the owner of the property and the owner of the grocery store. They keep talking about an "outcome for the space that the whole community can feel good about". Also they plan to "liaison between the council and the city and principal parties on conditions and requirements for occupancy of the space". It's not for them to be involved in, because it's a private business arrangement between two private parties. And it's done. And if there were legal issues related to the use of the space, the neighborhood council has no legal authority to do anything. So what are they planning to do?
As Gretchen said, if you substitute any other store name for Whole Foods, it becomes even more clear that they seem to have lost touch with reality. And, as she and many others have said, you have to wonder why they are spending such ridiculous amounts of time and energy on this pointless (and maybe illegal) task, when there are so many vacant storefronts in Hyde Square. Though if I owned a business and saw how the Neighborhood Council was treating Whole Foods, I would be pretty reluctant to open in Hyde Square. Does anyone need that much hassle? It might seem easier to open a business anywhere else, where there aren't these crazies pretending they have the right to tell me how to operate a business. And maybe that's really the agenda of the Neighborhood Council--to keep Hyde Square economically depressed, so there is a pool of poor people they can be able to offer services to. While that might seem a little far-fetched, then what on earth are they doing?
I am writing to ask what JPNC thinks about working to find alternative uses for an already leased business that is going to employ about 100 people with fair pay and benefits in light of today's article in the Jamaica Plain Patch. I hope at the very least you will make a concerted effort to communicate your decision to do this to the young people in this article and throughout Jamaica Plain.
Both of your messages to the JPNC are spot on!
I agree with Gretchen et al who not only understand that WF is moving in (and is a GOOD THING), but that there are SO many stores that need filling, like in the new bldg that just went up and is vacant at Centre & Forbes!
I personally don't know anyone in JP who is anything but enthusiastic about WF coming to Hyde Squ. I truly hope this committee is not looking to make more trouble than has already been made. Stop and Shop is terrible and overpriced, and not at all a good 'fit' here! WF will offer healthier, and often less expensive alternatives to S&S, and will not be supporting the commercial food supply, BEST OF ALL! They will be buying a lot of food locally, which will be great for local farmers in the area. ALL GOOD.
Just posted a version of this to the JPNC FaceBook page:
I still don't understand how the JPNC in good conscience continues to hold these ridiculous meetings regarding Whole Foods under the guise that they and an ad-hoc committee can actually prevent the chain from moving into the neighborhood. The minimal number of residents who don't support WF coming to town are deluded enough to think that the move, despite a lease being signed, is not going to happen and might be preventable. JPNC usually does a lot of good for the neighborhood, but the focus is WAY off base this time.