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Pops in the Park – Free this Sunday!

2014 July 22
by Kara Robbins

IMG_0261Hear the New Philharmonia Orchestra for free this Sunday, July 27 at 8pm as part of the Hyde Community Center’s new Sunday night summer performance series! The orchestra is pulling out all the stops for a really fun show. This terrific program includes:

Tributes to The Beatles, Leroy Anderson,
and baseball

Music from Frozen

Plus Pops favorites, patriotic all-stars, crowd sing-a-longs, and rockin’ musical surprises!

Newton North violinist Spencer Anderson will also appear with an encore of his winning performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto!

Gather a blanket, a picnic, and friends for a perfect summer evening of live music under the stars – right in your backyard!

7:30pm – Instrument Petting Zoo
8:00pm – Concert

Rain or shine. More information online at

Pops in the Park Poster

More than one way to green the Austin Street parking lot

2014 July 22

The group Newton Villages Alliance has posted an open call for ideas for the Austin Street parking lot, all of which, so far, call for planting majestic trees and turning part of the lot in Newtonville into a park. (None of the proposals explain how the work will be financed. And it’s not clear if the group is screening ideas and only posting the ones that fit its[secret] steering committee’s vision.)

Meanwhile, former Newton gadfly (and I use the term in the most endearing way)
Anatol Zukerman returned to Newton to attend the most recent Austin Street and in a TAB column concludes ….

People see the skin of a large building but fail to see the life inside of it. People think that every building increases motorized traffic but fail to notice that it makes people work, shop and entertain within a walking distance. On the other hand, the asphalted parking lots like the one on Austin Street across from Shaw’s Market create toxic hot spots, but “people” don’t mind that. Any new structure with greenery would be better than that lot, but “people” don’t like new structures.

…..Most Newtonians want to preserve their style of life and resist other forms of habitat, but urban growth is also natural and it promises a better environment for everybody. People crave parks but modern buildings themselves can contain greenery and produce clean energy.

Have Mayor Warren read to your kids:

2014 July 22
by Andreae Downs

Green Planet Kids in Newton Highlands is back at being the best friend a parent could have.

Owner Annabelle Ship just sent this out:

Midsummer Night Pajama Party at Green Planet Kids. 
This Thursday, July 24th at 6:00 pm.
Come in your PJs to hear bedtime stories read by Mayor Setti Warren. This fun event is part of the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge.
We will also have a guitarist leading Sleepytime Songs, and milk & cookies from Rosie’s Bakery.
BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanket.
Free, and fun for all ages. To reserve space for your family, please call (617) 332-7841.
Almost makes me want small children around again…

Would you pay money to see Newton politicans have ice water dumped on their heads?

2014 July 21
by Greg Reibman

Read about it (and watch more videos) on Buzzfeed.

Next Austin Street meeting on July 28

2014 July 21
by Village 14

The second input session for the Austin Street project will be held at the Newton North High School cafeteria next Monday, July 28 from 7-9 p.m.

This session will include a summary report of the input received at the firstcommunity input session as well as a presentation and discussion of the Greenman Pedersen Inc. (GPI) parking study conducted in the Newtonville village area.

Shakespeare tonight in Newton Highlands (for free)

2014 July 20
by Groot Gregory


Join your neighbors tonight at the first evening of Shakespeare in the Park. The New Rep’s Classic Repertory Company will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Hyde Playground Bandstand. The performance starts at 8:00 PM. While the forecast predicts the weather will be fine for tonight’s outdoor event there is a plan in case of rain so don’t let today’s clouds dissuade you from stopping by.

I am personally looking forward to tonight to see how the play will be choreographed on the bandstand stage.


Telling Family Stories

2014 July 19
by Chris Steele

homebox_portfolio Just about all of us have boxes of old family photos or slides lying around. Over time, not only do the photos fade, but often we forget the stories behind the pictures. This is becoming even more of a concern in the digital age. Apparently, the great majority of photos shot never get downloaded from our phones or cameras.

One Upper Falls business started up to try to help families with exactly these issues. EverPresent – founded by Eric Niloff and his wife back in 2012 – has 30 employees who help people restore old photos, slides, and films, assemble and categorize digital snaps, and then curate these into meaningful collections. This may mean photo books and slide shows for specific events (weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc) or it may mean a cloud-based digital archives of photographs.

Eric and his wife stumbled into the business through their own experiences, working with a collection of more than 10,000 photographs he found at his 91-year-old grandfather’s home in Florida in 2009. The photos represented an incredible anthology of family history. There were photos of his grandfather serving in the Canadian military during World War II, photos of him at medical school, and photos of the hundreds oConsultf family gatherings that occurred in the decades following.

The company started in the former Needham Lock & Decorative Hardware space on Chestnut St in Newton Upper Falls and has now also grown to a new processing facility in Watertown.

As a sidelight to the profile above – and my own reason for wanting to write it – we recently did our own family history project because of just such boxes full of photos.

Retired five years ago, my father has been spending much of his time pouring over his parents’ and grandparents’ collections of photos, property deeds, family bibles, and the like to determine the family’s origins and story here in North America. He has now scanned dozens of photos and figured out who is in each.

He’s also traced the family back to Hendrick Kip who first came to North America in about 1637, part of the wave of Dutch settlers who came to a settlement known as Schraalenburgh in present-day Bergen County, NJ. (The settlement was part of the broader New Netherland colony in New York and New Jersey, all of which would be taken over by the English a few decades later.)

The exercise has brought many surprises (the surname “Steele” actually comes from an Irish ancestor – a link we didn’t know we had!), and each new document and photo is a story waiting to be told.

Governor’s race: Open Thread

2014 July 18
by Gail Spector

With state primaries less than two months away, it seems like a good time for a discussion about the governor’s race. The Globe today has a story about a dead heat between Democratic candidate Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker. Newton’s Steve Grossman‘s own polls (nearly a month old) show him trailing Coakley by a large margin. Democrat Don Berwick, also from Newton, hasn’t gained much traction, according to polls. Republican Mark Fisher is running as a Tea Party member.

While I haven’t read much about him yet, I know some people who plan to vote for yet another Newton resident, Evan Falchuk, who is running as an independent. The other two independents are Scott Lively and Jeff McCormack but I don’t believe they’ve secured a place on the ballot yet. (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.)

Thoughts? Opinions? Predictions? Keeping your fingers crossed wishes?

And…does anyone know which Newton pols have endorsed Steve Grossman? I couldn’t find anything on his site.


Water main break on Needham Street

2014 July 16
by Village 14

A serious water main break occurred this morning in the area of 40 Needham Street.

At this time, Needham Street is closed to all vehicle traffic from Columbia Road to Winchester Street. Vehicles are being diverted. If possible, avoid that area and seek alternate routes.

Needham Street is closed to pedestrian traffic, between 111 Needham Street and Winchester Street. Businesses are closed on Needham Street in this area as well.

Updates on this situation will be posted as they become available on

For questions regarding the water main break on Needham Street, please contact the Emergency Operations

Newton Muni-Wonk: Summer is when you…

2014 July 14
by Andreae Downs

worry (if you’re a conspiracy theorist) that elected officials will sneak in a new ordinance…

Scratching that itch, the Muni-Wonk returns to give you this week’s highlights (details here). Probably a meeting here you’ll want to attend instead of the rained-out barbeque:

  • Zoning your pet peeve? You will be interested in a raft of proposals in this week’s docket that look like an attempt to address some land use and historic preservation concerns.
  • Historic Preservation your hobbyhorse? There’s good news in the reports–not only is the East Parish Burying Ground possibly getting more refurbishment (the graves will gleam?), but the City Clerk has obtained a grant to preserve more of the Civil War archives–and not from precious Community Preservation funds!
  • Plastic Bags your bane? The ban is advancing, but you will have to read the report to find out how.
  • Eminent Domain have you down? The vote to take three houses (now two) to expand the lot (is it all for parking?) at Zervas comes up for a vote tonight. A letter from Newton Highlands and Waban folks opposing the sale is in the Friday packet. Oh, and see the sewer discussion at Lasell, below–
  • Water and Climate your focus? The Friday Packet has details on the Hammond Brook culvert repair (expansion), and some sewer/drain discussions for Lasell College property.
  • Like Numbers? Two or three financially-driven subcommittees meet on Wednesday…just as the weather is supposed to get nice again.

Don’t miss St. Mary of Carmen Society festival this week!

2014 July 13
by Gail Spector

festivalThe annual St. Mary of Carmen Society festival begins Wednesday, July 16 and takes place through Sunday night, July 20 in Pellegrini Park in Nonantum. If you’ve never been, you are missing something very special. If you have attended previously and you’re in town (or in the city :-) ), you’re likely to attend again and I hope you have a great time!


Planning Director Candace Havens to retire

2014 July 10
by Gail Spector

Just in from City Hall:

Newton Director of Planning and Development Announces Retirement

Newton –Candace Havens, Director of Planning and Development for the City of Newton, announced her retirement today, effective Friday, August 15, 2014. Candace was appointed Director of Planning and Development by Mayor Setti Warren in December of 2010. She first joined the City of Newton in September of 2007 and served as Acting Director from January 2010 until her appointment that December.

“I want to thank Candace for her service to the city of Newton. As Director of Planning and Development, Candace has played a critical role in numerous initiatives that have made – and will continue to make – a positive impact on our city. Her commitment to targeted economic development that preserves the character of our villages has laid the groundwork for a more sustainable, livable Newton. I wish Candace the very best of luck in her future endeavors,” Mayor Setti Warren said.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work with the Mayor, the Board of Aldermen, and our state delegation in service to the City of Newton. We live in a remarkable city filled with extraordinarily talented residents and staff, and being the head of the Planning Department has provided me with an intellectual challenge that I’ve enjoyed and which probably can’t be matched anywhere. Much has been accomplished in Newton in the last seven years and I am proud to have been part of it,” Candace Havens said.

James Freas, Associate Director of Planning and Development, will serve as Acting Director effective Monday, August 18, 2014.

Conspiracy theorists: Ready, set, go!