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Residents Push for Grocery Shuttle as Johnnie's Closes

The Charlestown store is expected to shut down for renovations by Nov. 19.

With Johnnie’s Foodmaster reportedly closing by Nov. 19, Charlestown residents are urging officials to come up with a plan for shuttling people to supermarkets in Somerville or Chelsea.

At the Charlestown Neighborhood Council meeting Thursday night, several people raised concerns about getting a transportation program up and running—especially with Thanksgiving exactly two weeks away.

One council member said the decision of what to do “should have been made yesterday.”

Danielle Fitzgerald, neighborhood coordinator with the Mayor’s Office, said that the mayor was working with City Councilor Sal LaMattina and the Boston Elderly Commission to come up with a plan to help residents get to a grocery store—likely either Market Basket in Chelsea or Stop and Shop in Somerville.

“We are very aware that this is a very serious concern for all in the community,” Fitzgerald said.

CNC vice chairman David Whelan said the council planned to invite interested partners—possibly representatives from one or both of the nearby supermarkets—to attend an upcoming meeting but that it likely wouldn’t happen until early to mid December.

But some people felt that meeting should happen sooner.

Charlestown resident Melissa Brennan, a former CNC member, said she thought the council should go ahead and post a meeting date for later in November and then work to get interested parties there.

“It’s a hot-button issue, and people need food,” she said.

The Thompson Square Johnnie’s is one of six locations in and around Boston that were recently transferred to Whole Foods. The company plans to remodel all six stores and reopen them in late summer or early fall of 2013.

In the official announcement from Whole Foods, a tentative closing date of Nov. 30 was given, but members of the CNC said Thursday that the store was expected to close earlier, by Nov. 19.

Shortly after the official announcement of the transfer was made in October, the Townie Association set up a petition requesting that transportation be provided to nearby supermarkets and temp jobs be offered to current Johnnie's Foodmaster employees. As of Nov. 8, the online petition had 288 signatures.

What do you think? Should a supermarket shuttle be provided as soon as possible for Charlestown residents? How urgent is the issue? And do you have a preference—Stop and Shop or Market Basket? Tell us in the comments.

TownLady November 09, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Fortunately we live in Boston which means that everyone has easy access to everything. Almost every grocery store has some sort of home delivery set up, which is a great option for those who feel disenfranchised by the closing of Johnnies. If people put as much effort into finding a grocery store as they did with complaining, there would be no issue.
TownLady November 09, 2012 at 12:35 PM
If I had an elderly friend or relative, it would be my responsibility to ensure that they get what they need, not the City of Boston's responsibility.
TheMaskedTruthsayer November 09, 2012 at 01:19 PM
@ SelfSuficient: Spoken like someone who has never lived on a fixed income or had limited access to the necessities of life.
Robert McMaster November 09, 2012 at 01:20 PM
What is the real story behind Whole Foods not opening until the fall of 2013. You could tear down the building and rebuild ii in less time! Something smells rotten in Denmark.
TheMaskedTruthsayer November 09, 2012 at 01:20 PM
I'm wondering if you have ANY friends due to the fact you come off like a pr_ck!
carol November 09, 2012 at 01:20 PM
A lot of elderly can't afford the service fee's for pea pod. When you're on a limited income those fee's add up. I see nothing wrong with members of the community standing up for and helping one another. Especially those who may not have family close by to help. Afterall, that's what makes a community a community. It's easy to say there are other options for these folks when you are not in their situation.
Seamus O'Sullivan November 09, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I'm sorry, why is it the responsibility of the public to provide transportation to local supermarkets? Having a supermarket within a 5 minute walk from your home is a privilege, not a right. It's absolutely amazing to me the number of people on here expecting hand outs.
Rosemarie Ryan November 09, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Your remark is callous and uncaring. Seniors are the backbone of this community who have lived here all their lives. Even a shopping surcharge of $6.95 to have an order delivered is a lot for some on a fixed income.
TownLady November 09, 2012 at 01:45 PM
@Seamus - thank you. Agreed.
Joseph November 09, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Why won't the CNC use the mitigation funds to establish a transportation service? These funds are supposed to be used directly to help the residents of Charlestown, correct? I would think this transportation service is EXACTLY the type of non-profit that would benefit for these funds. How about CNC? Any good reasons why you shouldn't use these funds to provide this service for the elderly? What don't I know about having access to these monies? It's your call as to who receives these funds, correct? Or, how about the CNC work out an agreement with PeaPod that the delivery charges will be bill to the mitigation fund? Seems feasible, does it not? Or, how about the CNC provide more funding for the Boys & Girls Club so that the B&G vans can be used as a transportation service? Seems feasible, does it not? The mitigation fund has a couple hundred thousand remaining to be issued to our community. I think everyone looking for a transportation option would look to the CNC and the mitigation fund to provide this service.
TownLady November 09, 2012 at 02:06 PM
@TheMaskedTruthsayer - your assumptions of my upbringing are far from accurate. I have worked for everything I have in life. Furthermore, I have not attacked anyone personally on here. I am not a prick, I am a very caring and I have lots of friends, but thanks.
Joseph November 09, 2012 at 02:07 PM
ps.... Just so you all can see the purpose of these funds. I'm sure these 13 organizations that receive funding wouldn't mind losing a few hundred bucks this year to support the elderly. Let's find out who the selfish ones are now.... http://charlestownbridge.com/2011/12/23/local-organizations-benefit-from-cnc-fund/
Sean Boyle November 09, 2012 at 02:09 PM
It's okay. Townies will take care of it .. Matter of fact, some Townies already have! Seamus, if you're going to live here, you need to realize something: we take care of each other.
Seamus O'Sullivan November 09, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Sean, that's great. That's how it should work. People helping other people - not expecting handouts from public funds to pay for private services.
Velvet Jones November 09, 2012 at 02:33 PM
How sympathetic would the Patch crowd be if a supermarket closed in Roxbury and those residents DEMANDED free rides to do their shopping ? Words like ''entitlements'' and ''handouts'' come to mind. I didn't know the plight of the elderly was this bad in C-Town, how they live in squalor, can't afford anything over $2, and have no family or friends to help with anything ?
Tim November 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I agree- why does it take so long to build the new store? That makes no sense.
Tim November 09, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I know that there have been conversations amongst the parishioners at St. Mary's to make sure that there's support in place in terms of offering rides to the stores - especially for the senior citizens. Short of anything formally organized for transportaiton, I hope everyone reaches out and offers to help. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.
Katie Maine November 09, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I love the idea of the stores providing a pickup service. Why not a schedule such as Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. the bus makes a couple of stops in C'town and goes to Market Basket, Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. the bus makes a couple of stop in C'Town and goes to Stop n Shop. Or a different schedule, but the stores would pay for it, not the citizens of C'town who need the bus or the city of Boston.
ctownBOS November 09, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Seamus, Self Sufficient - you guys are right on. We've reached the tipping point where more people actually and ignorantly believe they have this God given right / entitlement to this and that. This is nation wide, not just CTOWN. Everyone wants "Free" not understanding its not free. Help out your neighbor, family and friends but dont think its your right for the tax payers to fund whatever you think your entitled to. These posts are sickening. Yeah, I have a heart, I do give back a lot. I donate a huge amount to worthy causes and not because I get a tax deduction. Look around, reach out and PERSONALLY help as you can. But dont think its your right to take from others against their will (eg taxes to fund a bus run). This will back fire in the end. Yes, we have reached the tipping point. And now all the new generation are growing up with this mentality. Democracy is on its way to failure. These posts are a microcosm of this. Go ahead and rip my post apart....its all part of the new path we are on.
gail November 09, 2012 at 05:13 PM
If the stores were smart one of them would organize some transport....or maybe the issue is liability if someone is injured en route
Elizabeth D'Oliveira November 09, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Just to add some perspective, when the Stop and Shop in Beacon Hill was replaced by Whole Foods, Johnnie's provided free shuttles to the elderly in the West End and the North End to their Charlestown location so they could go grocery shopping. Charlestown has 5 large complexes that house seniors that need a local option. Taking several buses or trains to get to the grocery store is not an option for them.
Joshua D November 09, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Maybe Elizabeth warren or Scott Brown could help.......oh wait ....they just spent 70- something million dollars campaigning to get in a position to help ......so they're wallets are probably a little tighter now ......
Joshua D November 09, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Round 2 ; The haves VS The have nots
Joshua D November 09, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Thank goodness I have a lifetime supply of spam in the basement .......Lol !!!!
Erin McDonald November 09, 2012 at 07:41 PM
The conversation on the topic of a neighborhood grocery and those divisive comments slung by people who have only recently resided here is indicative of the problem. Some newcomers, who are so prolific in their condescending comments, seem so quick to judge and demean the people that have made this the great community that we all have enjoyed up until recently. I have only lived here for 30 years but I do love the network of people who lend a hand and a compassionate ear. The new commenters create such negative energy as they sling their "pearls" of wisdom. Let me assure you, no one cares what you think; if you aren't a part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
Joshua D November 09, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Go get Em Erin !!!!! I grew up in south Medford off Mystic ave .....moved here 3 years back .....Italian side from the north end .....Irish side from Somerville and Cambridge All working class immigrants ......family ran a foster home for 14 years ......I watched my mother care for children of the state as if they were her own and they became my family too. We were always a slap away from the projects ourselves.....my folks were life long renters .....father worked for the housing authority advocating for the homeless. I know a bit about the smaller piece of the pie. Someone said to me. "well this is capitalism" To that I say ; "No, this is a community"
Owen November 12, 2012 at 12:10 AM
You're saying that an urban community need only "critical supplies" to get by?
Owen November 12, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Seamus just put it perfectly. Sean Boyle, you're making this matter worse by trying ot draw a line between "Townies" and everyone else.
Owen November 12, 2012 at 12:22 AM
That argument doesn't fly with me. How dare you put yourself above those who haven't lived here since 1628. Have you read some of the down right hostile remarks from Townies on this issue? No, you ignore them because you're biased. You've had the luxury of being able to live here for thiry years. Some of us have chosen to serve our country and therefore live where the government sends them. I have been lucky enough to get stationed here in Boston. If one reviews many of the comments on this issue, they will find that many Townies who post on here are trying to draw a line between locals and non-locals. Are you intentionally trying to be unwelcoming?
Owen November 12, 2012 at 12:24 AM
This is a community in a capitalist country. Do you seriously think you're better because you chose not to live anywhere else? Do you seriously believe that anyone who didn't grow up in the area is some rich snop here to destroy this fantasy world you have of a golden age where everyone loved everyone and did everything for each other?

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