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Townie Association Petition Demands Whole Foods Provide Access to Supermarkets During Remodeling

With the purchase of Johnnie's, Whole Foods will shut the Audstin St. market for nearly a year as they update and remodel the space.

The Townie Association is backing a petition to have transportation to nearby supermarkets for Charlestown residents and temp jobs for current Johnnie's Foodmaster employees after learning that Whole Foods had purchased Johnnie’s in Thompson Square. Johnnie’s will close sometime before Novermber 30 and construction will take about a year.

“A lot of our friends work at Johnnie’s, so we want to help them. A lot of elderly people wont have a place to shop, so we want to get them to other locations,” Townie Association Member Sean Boyle said. “We want to get Whole Foods and New England development to help out the community while the supermarket is being.”

“The choice of which supermarket is something that will have to be decided on at an upcoming town meeting or something like that,” Boyle said.

“We should have known about this much sooner. There’s a lot of people in town who don’t have cars or easy access to the T,” Boyle said. “November is just a few days away. Something needs to be done as soon as possible.”

Here is the link to the petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/new-england-development-whole-foods-market-inc-to-provide-shuttles-to-other-grocerery-stores-and-temporary-job-placements

Using the comments section, tell us how you think this situation should be handled. 

Seamus O'Sullivan October 26, 2012 at 08:17 PM
haha this is laughable. typical townie behavior. boo hoo hoo, something's happening that we don't like. i'm sure whole foods is taking notice!
Owen October 26, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Seamus, I don't think this is an unreasonable request. WholeFoods will either say "yes" or "no". Whatever the outcome, it's nice that there are neighborhoods in this city that still try to at least help those who need it. We've all read your constant negative and condescending remarks toward "Townies", so we all know that you bear a deep resentment toward them. However, maybe sometimes you should take a break. WholeFoods is coming. That's a good thing. Neighbors trying to help neighbors is also a good thing. Relax.
Sean Boyle October 26, 2012 at 09:07 PM
This is nothing against Whole Foods. This is because residents, including yourself, will not have a grocery store in our town for maybe a year during renovations/remodeling for Whole Foods. People need access to grocery stores, especially the elderly, less fortunate, and those with out a vehicle. I'm sure you don't want people to starve, do you? Have a little kindness in your heart, Seamus.
Chris S October 26, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I think the suggestion about providing options for the car-less and elderly during construction is pretty constructive. I had feared everyone would be up in arms about the arrival of Whole Foods, but it's nice to see a positive focus on helping folks out during the transition. I would think that the Stop & Shop in East Somerville, the Shaws in East Cambridge, and--dare I say it--the Whole Foods in Government Center might all be interested in a bite of the C-town business during the coming year. Maybe one or more of them can be persuaded to provided free delivery to Charlestown while the transition takes place. I shall miss the convenience of being able to buy a box of Ziploc bags or quart of Brighams ice cream at a moment's notice, but frankly it will be nice to have some nice produce, decent meats, and interesting local and sustainably produced products in a pleasant environment close to home.
Rebecca B October 26, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Chris, You can still get those Ziploc bags right next door at Charlestown Ace Hardware! Also, I'm pretty sure if you wanted them to start carrying something to make up for the loss of Johnnies, aside from food, of course, they would be more than willing to consider your suggestions.
Working Man October 27, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Seamus O'Negative You sir are a fool... This petition is not about not wanting Whole foods it is about helping people during the year when the town will not have a place to shop locally. I hope to one day run into you to show you how much I love your negativity and to express how much we love your comments. I hate to be negative but something about you makes me want to be a jerk just like you.... Thanks Sean for always thinking of others.
CTownRN October 28, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I hope Whole Foods will provide transportation to elderly, those without a car, and those less fortunate. I'd hope too that if enough good samiratans were interested, we could start a grassroots way of volunteering to help your fellow neighbor out, lend a ride, etc. I know I would!
Karen Colombosian October 29, 2012 at 05:44 PM
It would be advangeous if some of the local supermarkets (aka Market Basket of Chelsea or Stop & Shop Charlestown/Somerville) provide transportation as many of these people will end up shopping there in the long run. Its nice to have Whole Foods in town but everyone can't afford this. This is an opportune time for someone to step up
PEGGY LYNCH October 30, 2012 at 12:10 PM
You know when you need a hand, the typical townie will be the one to help you out, even if you are a first class jerk!!
Joseph October 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM
How about the Townie Association purchasing a couple fridge/frozen units from Johnnies/WFs and setting up a location here in Charlestown (B&G Club or Zelma Lacey to name a couple) where people like myself can drop off the basic necessities for the elderly? In turn, charge a nominal fee to those in need, where those costs could offset the purchasing of the cooling units, as well as being able to restock those items most important? Not sure this is a valid option, but it's an idea. Sean - You bring up a point about not being notified. While the impact on the community is great, it is a private transaction. While it would have been nice, public notice wouldn't necessarily be required. The question I have for you is this - Shouldn't those board members on the CNC, including our elected precinct representatives, be responsible for keeping the community notified of such a significant event? To date, my friends and I have yet to hear one word about the status of the Johnnies/WF situation from any of our precinct representatives. If you don't believe Tom Cunha and his phoney bunch of puppets on the CNC weren't aware of this buyout, you'd be mistaken. So much for their mission statement: "The CNC is responsible for facilitating dialogue within the Charlestown community and between the residents of Charlestown and the City of Boston, State and Local agencies and businesses"
Joe October 31, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Cowbunga! How about a petition to stop the monstrosity on School Street. What is it a prison? Suprised they havent dug up any stiffs from the grave yard?
Joseph November 01, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Bette Task - You offered up a great suggestion about the CNC using their mitigation funds to help support this need for transportation between supermarkets. Why was your post removed? Were you asked by the CNC to remove it? CNC can hire a fundraiser, but offers no help to the elderly? Why isn't the Townie Association all up in arms about this? CNC said to the BRA, "Roll over, you're snoring!!" http://charlestownbridge.com/2011/03/03/cnc-considers-hiring-fundraisers-to-help-nonprofits/ Just read about Tom Cunha and the power he supposedly doesn't have. How are we able to see the books on this fund and who got paid?? So many questions, so few answers.
Bette Task November 01, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I don;t know why the post was removed. However, I have spoken with the faciitator at Market Basket headquarters about helping out somehow with the transportation issue and he said that they just don;'t do that type of thing. He suggested we petition the Mayor's office regarding this matter. Again, I say, this should be permanent as the elderly and lower income people won't be able to afford WF's when it finally opens.
Joseph November 02, 2012 at 12:11 PM
@Nate Homan - Any explanation why Bette's post was removed? Was it flagged or was there a system problem? Bette - Thanks for the update. I have to disagree about the price of food, but that's for another discussion. If the CNC truly cared about Charlestown residents, especially the elderly, they would figure out a way to use those funds to establish a shuttle bus during the WF construction.
Rob O'Brien November 02, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Don't forget about the other Charlestown establishments that provide some of the same goods as Johnny's. Non-edibles: Charlestown Ace and CVS. Pet Supplies: Durty Harry's and Unleashed. Fruits and vegetables: Boston Organics. We can also walk across the bridge to get some of the fine food the North End offers.
Jim Heffernan November 02, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Don't forget the convenience stores along Main Street. Though, I think a shuttle for the elderly is a good idea. Whole Foods would be smart to offer a shuttle to their other locations. I'm afraid of Charlestown becoming a food desert like the Seaport District. And while this all might address the elderly, I do feel for the Johnnie's employees -- sure they have a foot in the door at Whole Foods but what will they do for the next 10-11 months?
Larry Fine November 02, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Johnnie’s Foodmaster is closing all of its 10 stores, liquidator says Hilco Merchant Resources, an Illinois-based company whose services include liquidation, said it is closing sales at all 10 Johnnie’s Foodmaster supermarkets. In a press release, Hilco said: “After 65 years in business, store closing sales will begin Friday, Nov. 2, at all 10 Johnnie’s Foodmaster supermarkets. The closing stores are located in Arlington, Brookline, Charlestown, Lynn, Medford, Melrose, Somerville, South Weymouth, and Whitman.” http://www.boston.com/businessupdates/2012/11/02/johnnie-foodmaster-closing-all-its-stores-liquidator-says/AJxqEW55NCuP5FjYYacbLK/story.html.
Dan November 02, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Thin margins are killing small grocery store chains like Johnnie's. Even with Whole Foods moving in the limits of the footprint of the store and the limited parking will impact what they will be able to offer for sale and the costs. Can they (us) sustain a grocery store here? Just this morning two major grocery stores are laying off workers. So Johnnie's sale could have been a desperation move by the owner to do right for the communities to try to keep stores open here. As much as people are angry here we maybe lucky here that Whole Foods is willing to make the commitment. For Whole Foods to really make it they should tear down the current building and build a two/three floor building (like Shaws on Comm. Ave or like Ikea stores) in it's place and take over all of the stores next door to Main street so they can shift over a bit to make more parking across from the restaurant. I would also move the doorway more to the other end to open things up a bit. The other option would be to build a two level parking lot but that has it's own risks (safely) and doesn't gain enough parking space given what you loose for the structures footprint. The big question can the cost outlay get enough return over the next 5 or 10 years? This is where the limits of the site impact what businesses can do and what they are willing to do, or do they walk away. If they don't enlarge the stores footprint and the parking in some way its not a good sign for us in the long term.
Cheryl Wehler November 02, 2012 at 05:08 PM
First, I would like to say that Seamus is a jerk! Seamus are you involved in this community and if so what? The problem is the elderly who live in this town. Charlestown residents take care of the elderly. How are they going to survive? Not to mention, that is the only excersise some of them get. I work at Zelma Lacey and the residents love to walk over daily so they can get out and get some fresh air. Seamus, Charlestown is one square mile, have you noticed that we have low income housing? Open your eyes, how are they going to afford WF? Now Food Master is closing November 19th, the week before Thanksgiving, what are residents to do. FoodMaster stuck it to their dedicated employees and now the good people of Charlestown. I do believe in Karma, and the DeJesus family some day will get what they deserve.
Jay K. November 02, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Trolls live under bridges and eat tires. But they only exist if you acknowledge them. Don't let Seamus eat your tires, Cheryl. Ignore him and he will go away.
Joseph November 02, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Cheryl - Please help clarify. Johnnies has been great to Charlestown for so long, yet now that they have decided to get out of the supermarket business, they're horrible people and "the DeJesus family some day will get what they deserve." You have a very interesting point of view. I guess they were supposed to stay in business forever if I'm understanding you correctly?
Hashmir Garza November 02, 2012 at 09:58 PM
"The DeJesus family some day will get what they deserve."? WHAT! John DeJesus will get what he deserves... a nice retirement and the ability to provide finanacially for his FAMILY! Smaller chains are having a tougher time competing and previous articles have stated that there would likely have been NO potential suitor for Johnnie's leases down the line. So, should he get out while he can make a profit and provide for his own family, or should he wait and eventually watch his supermarket collapse to market pressure and get nothing? Not a tough choice. He has been a good to the communities his stores were in and has provided groceries at a reasonable cost for years. So, while I feel for the employees that may be out of work due to the closures, this was a FAMILY business and he needs to look out for HIS family first. Thank you and best of luck to the DeJesus family. Now, let's all look forward to the arrival of Whole Foods (which will be a really nice anchor store for the Bunker Hill Mall, which could use some minor sprucing up).
just thinking November 03, 2012 at 06:44 PM
cherlyl, you make it sound like people are going to starve if J.F. bcomes whole froods .what are we living on an island.for yrs. people made it to haymarket square for their food. just keep singing thelma houston's song " I WILL SURVIVE "

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