Skip to content

NHNAC Zervas Working Group proposes “Plan B” to save trees, open space, …and $2.4M

2014 September 1
by Bruce Henderson

The Board of Aldermen is scheduled to vote this Tuesday – tomorrow, the day after Labor Day – on the Zervas School Building Committee’s recommendation to acquire three residential properties on Beacon Street to expand the Zervas site.

The Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council has been monitoring the Zervas design process and providing community input regarding traffic, walkability, open space, and neighborhood impact.  The NHNAC Zervas Working Group opposes this acquisition and has recently proposed “Plan B” – an alternative site plan to create more open space, increase pedestrian safety, and avoid spending $2.4 million to acquire the abutting properties. (Disclosure: I’m on the NHNAC Zervas Working Group.)

Accompanying this alternative plan is a survey of the 45 mature trees (18 species) in and around those properties that the current ZSBC plan would remove to make parking lots.  Newton’s Urban Tree Commission has written a letter to the ZSBC and Design Review Committee to advocate for the preservation and protection of those “stately and spectacular” trees.

The NHNAC has also written a response to concerns raised about its Plan B by members of the ZSBC.  Take a look the plans and weigh in.  Is there something about the current ZSBC plan that’s worth an extra $2.4M and the loss of a 45-tree greenscape on Beacon Street? Is there something important and requiring a site expansion that NHNAC’s Plan B misses?


Newton school teachers starting new year without a contract

2014 August 31
by Greg Reibman

The Globe’s Ellen Ishkanian reports that Newton’s school teachers are looking for more than the 2.5 percent cap Mayor Setti Warren set last time for all contract negotiations.

During the last negotiations, according to [Newton Teachers Association president Michael] Zilles, his membership understood the mayor’s position.

“The city was in a pretty bad way, and there was no end in sight,” he said. “We took hits on health insurance and compensation, and we agreed to increase the number of steps so it takes longer to get to a full salary.

“We made some very big sacrifices for the health of the system, now is the time to make some progress,” Zilles said.

Sowing seeds of discontent

2014 August 30
by Jerry Reilly

moneyeyeA parent came across a stack of these flyers in a hallway at Newton South a few days ago.

They were told that “people”  were handing them out at the gathering of all Newton teachers that morning.  It sounds like the teachers’ union may be trying to stir up their membership for the next round of  salary negotiations.

Ward 3 Alderman candidates meet again, this time at Democratic-sponsored forum

2014 August 30
by Julia Malakie


Fran Azzarto, Barbara Brousal-Glaser, Maria Manning and Jeanne Marrazzo met again last night for the Ward 3 Democratic City Committee’s forum. (At the Senior Center in Ward 2; I hope someday we’ll have the Allen House as a Ward 3 venue for this type of event!)

Great questions, interesting answers, some surprising, and a fair amount of humor. Although oddly, no budget or tax questions. I hope you’ll be able to listen here. Would have had this audio up 24 hours ago, but was inexplicably not working; now it magically is. I did not see any video cameras. Where was NewTV?

Note: these audios don’t seem to play on smartphones or tablets; you need to be on a real computer – sorry.

Where’s Freddie Fish when we need him her?

2014 August 29
by Greg Reibman

The always-alert Jim Waker (aka @BrandNewWatch) discovered this flyer in Auburndale..

missing shell

POLL: Your choice for State Treasurer in the Dem primary?

2014 August 27
by Village 14

Three candidates — State Sen. Barry Finegold, state Rep. Tom Conroy and Brookline businesswoman Deb Goldberg — are competing for the Democratic nomination for State Treasurer on Sept. 9. Who are you voting for and why?

Weeks Field is closed…but for what and for how long?

2014 August 26
by Greg Reibman

That’s the question Mary Ann Hill aka @saltwaterhill tweeted this morning.

She later tweeted this photo to Village 14 …

Owly Images

Is it time to finally move Newton’s high school start times?

2014 August 26
by Greg Reibman

Yet another study and round of news reports are reviving the issue of later school starts for teens. Here’s a story from the Wall Street Journal.

and here’s a study from the National Sleep Foundation.

there’s even a website called

(Cue Mike Striar)

Newton’s Gracia Leydon Mahoney places 4th in Youth Olympic Games

2014 August 26
by Greg Reibman

Gracia Leydon Mahoney,  a recent Newton North graduate, finished fourth in the women’s 3-meter springboard contest Monday at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. Here’s the TAB story and the Herald’s story.

You can watch the full event here (you can see one of Leydon Mahoney’s dives at about the 53:00 mark)…

and here’s a recent story that aired on Channel 4

City responds to column about the Newton’s LED street lights

2014 August 26
by Greg Reibman

Rob Garrity, Newton’s Director of Sustainability has a written a response to the TAB column by Jeff Hecht who believes Newton selected the wrong type of LED bulbs for it city street lamps.

The new lights provide a “truer” color than the old High Pressure Sodium lights, greatly assisting visibility and enhancing public safety. In addition, the new LED lights are more trained which better illuminates the roadway and casts less of a glare into homes. Individual concerns about specific fixtures and light intrusion can usually be addressed with a minor adjustment.

If you build it, they can afford it

2014 August 22
by Greg Reibman

135 wells aveSometimes in the middle of the debate over 135 Wells Ave.  Austin Street  and similar projects in  neighboring communities, the discussion will turn to:

But who is possibly going to want to live in those places and be able to afford the rents?

One answer is: Tech workers.

Or so this survey in the Boston Business Journal suggests.

The innovation economy is hot and, in many cases,  the people who work in read more…

BLOG POLL: How much weight should we give to online polls, surveys and even dots?

2014 August 22
by Greg Reibman

In her latest op-ed column in the TAB, Austin Street development opponent Kathleen Kouril Grieser announced that the (still mysterious) anti-development citizens group Newton Villages Alliance has just created an on-line poll “to clarify how Newtonville envisions Austin Street, going forward.”

This new survey follows an often-cited poll  conducted by the Newtonville Area Council in February, which Kouril Grieser dismisses because it had “bias built into survey questions,” as well as the city’s own Austin Street Dotmocracy .

A similar survey was conducted recently in Newton Highlands and Waban to gauge feelings about the Zervas School Expansion Project (analyzed here by project critic Steve Feinstein).

And, of course, this blog, and  the TAB Blog have used online polls for years in Newton about everything from school naming rights to what someone’s day job is to killing bears to this musical show down .

I’ve never suggested taking our online blogs  seriously.  And certainly anyone who has compared the results of Village 14′s various election-related polls knows that they are far from true barometers of anything except perhaps which campaign has (a) the most time on its hands and (b) knows the most about clearing cookies. (Although this one proved to be spot on!)

So how seriously should we take these things?  Naturally, we’ve created a poll to find out!