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Should Newton issue scarlet letters for sidewalk scofflaws too?

2014 December 19
by Greg Reibman

The City of Somerville has just adopted a new sidewalk shoveling ordinance which not only increases fine, but will mark scofflaws’ properties with large “Scarlet Letter” inspired placards, Wicked Local Somerville reports.

… inspectional services will put “large, strikingly colored door markers on the properties of offenders,” she said. “[The markers] will not only bring attention to the property owner but will make the neighbors aware of the citation that are being serviced to such properties.

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Real people, real stories

2014 December 18
by Jerry Reilly

StorySlam2Here’s 21 stories for your viewing/listening pleasure.

About a month ago we held the first ever Nomad Story Slam one Friday night at Gregorian Rugs.  We invited anyone who wanted to come tell a five minute, true story, about something that happened to them.   The theme of the night was “on the road”.

Twenty one story tellers showed up including some of our elected officials, some Village14 regulars, and a lot of just regular folks who got up in front of a microphone for the first time to tell a personal story.  It was a wonderful read more…

Clock running out for using 1.5% defense on Rowe Street 40B (updated)

2014 December 18
by Julia Malakie
70 Rowe aerialUPDATE AT BOTTOM

Or perhaps I should say the clock is being run out.

Tonight at 7pm in the Aldermanic Chambers, the Zoning Board of Appeals resumes its public hearing on the 135-unit apartment building proposed for 70 Rowe Street. As I noted in a previous post before the hearing opened on December 4, the City and ZBA have 15 days from the opening of a hearing to invoke the 1.5% General Land Area Minimum defense to deny a 40B permit, if they believe we have 1.5% of land area (zoned residential, commercial or industrial, and excluding roads, water bodies, flood plains and conservation land) used for affordable housing.

It has now been over five weeks since the November 10 Land Use hearing on Wells Ave, when the city’s legal counsel told the aldermen we may already be at 1.5%, and would likely know within a week. And over a month since the November 13 public meeting in Chestnut Hill when Mayor Warren said to an audience which included two aldermen, that if the city were at 1.5%, he would take steps to establish 40B immunity as soon as possible.

It’s hard to tell if the Planning Department is working hard, or hardly working on this, because there has been no explanation for why the process is taking so long, or when it will be completed. They appear to be moving “with all deliberate speed.” I.e., slowly. Even interested aldermen don’t seem to be getting any answers.

And it’s a good thing you have Village14, because I saw nothing in either the December 10 Tab or yesterday’s about the December 4 ZBA hearing, let alone the 1.5% issue.

Many questions will be answered tonight: Will Planning have finished their calculation? If we have the 1.5%,will the administration use it, or give up its only sure means to keep this commercial property commercial, or to control the size of the project? If requested by the administration, will the ZBA vote to invoke the 1.5% defense? It could be a very interesting evening.

UPDATE: Newton’s Planning Dept. released this chart and this added document to aldermen Thursday


Will Newton be a better place to live in 5-10 years?

2014 December 16
by Greg Reibman

Denis Goodwin asked that question on a different thread this week. What do you think? Why? And what are you personally willing to do to make sure it things turn out for the best?

North’s Price Offered to take North Andover Superintendent Job

2014 December 16
by Doug Haslam

Pending contract negotiations, but it appears Jennifer Price is headed to the 01845 for the next school year.

North Andover Patch

Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

North Andover Public Schools (home page: story about school committee approving the hire may move from here)

Newton North ‘amigos’ launch a sports blog

2014 December 16
by Greg Reibman

Congratulations to group of Newton North High School seniors who’ve just launched a sports blog called

Blogger Enis James tells me  via Facebook “we met through school, I guess most of us have been friends for a few years. We do it because we enjoy writing and we talk about sports a lot so we figured we might as well put them together. When we are not doing the site I guess we do homework and just hangout mostly.”

You can also follow them on Twitter @AmigosSports1



Newton aldermen approve outdoor water meters for residents only

2014 December 16
by Village 14
After more than two hours of deliberation Monday and years of study, Newton’s  Board of Aldermen approved the use of second meters to measure outdoor water use for residents, but did not make the option available to commercial or non-profit properties, Jim Morrison of the Newton TAB reports.
For a play by play of the debate visit the @14thVillage Twitter feed.
Here’s how the vote broke down:

read more…

Fleishman introduces need for ‘shifting elementary boundary lines’ to parents

2014 December 15
by Village 14

Newton’s Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman doesn’t actually use the word “redistricting”  in this memo to Newton school families today.

Dear Newton Families,

As many of you are aware, we have begun an exciting time of facilities renovation and expansion in the Newton Public Schools.  The recently renovated Carr School, which is currently housing the Angier School during its renovation, is a terrific modern facility.  We expect our Long Range Facilities Plan to continue for many years.  A key aspect of this plan is not only the rebuilding and renovation of aging buildings but also expanding their capacity to meet the needs of our growing population.  A new Angier school will open in January 2016, with Zervas to follow in September 2017.  A renovated or rebuilt Cabot is planned for January 2018.

We currently have schools that are over crowded and a few schools that will soon reach expanded capacity.  As a result, we will address the student assignment process, a task that will involve moving elementary boundary lines. We expect that the read more…

The luxury townhouse-ification of West Newton continues

2014 December 15
by Julia Malakie

Elm Gardens 11-19Elm

Anyone who doubts the impact of houses torn down and replaced or expanded into townhouses, and those of you who don’t get north of Washington Street that much, should take a walk around Elm, Oak, and Cherry and Webster Streets to see what’s happening in my part of West Newton.

Above is a photo of the five units of luxury condos at 11-19 Elm Street, under construction in April. One unit of what is being marketed as “Phase 1” of Elm Gardens is still available: 3,715 sq.ft. for $1,359,000.

Tonight, overshadowed by the second water meter debate, the Board of Aldermen is due to vote on petitions #273-14 for a change of zone for 114 River Street, and #273-14(2) for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to build four additional units on the combined lots of 114 River Street and 5-7 Elm Street, next door to 11-19 Elm.

What’s going on here? I can’t describe it any better than a near neighbor, Tricia Bombara, did in a read more…

Soldiers’ Stories

2014 December 15
by Jerry Reilly

CivilWarMonumentNewton’s newly restored Civil War Soldier’s Monument was just re-dedicated this past spring.  It was built in 1864 to commemorate the Newton men that died in that war.

Each month this year, Katy Holmes from Newton’s Planning Dept  has been compiling  biographies from all available records, for each soldier who’s name appears on the monument.  Throughout this year, Katy has been releasing biographies on the month of each soldier’s death.

I’ve been (mostly) posting them as she released them, though in recent months I’ve fallen down on the job a bit.  Here are the four most recently compiled Newton Civil War soldier’s stories:

read more…

Is the Upper Falls Greenway a victim of a Ponzi scheme?

2014 December 12
by Greg Reibman

GroundbreakingRemember this great celebration in October of 2013 celebrating the ground breaking  of a mile long park/walking trail/bike trail in Upper Falls?

Mayor Warren, Secretary of Transportion Richard Davey, several aldermen and lots of residents all gathered together to make way for Newton’s newest park – the Upper Falls Greenway.

Well this week the Newton TAB’s Jenna Fisher reports on why the project — one year behind scheduled completion — remains unfinished  and — even more disturbing — is now without its most valuable physical asset: the steel rails and ties that were going to fund the project.

As Fisher reminds us, the city contracted last year with Iron Horse Preservation Society, a nonprofit that converts abandoned railroads into usable recreational trails. The work was to be done at no cost to taxpayers in exchange for allowing Iron Horse to sell the rails and railroad ties and was to be completed in, according to the NewTV report below in “less than five weeks” or, according read more…

Trees, kids and history – a great project

2014 December 10
by Jerry Reilly

TreeRingsLast week, the newly refurbished Emerson Playground in Upper Falls was rededicated.  The mayor, city and state officials, and neighbors were all there but the best part was that all the young kids from the Countryside Aftercare program were there.  When they cut the ribbon the screaming kids poured into the field and swarmed over the new playground equipment.   In the middle of all the kids was Jesse Crandall.

Jesse’s been running the Upper Falls after school program for many years and he’s a big part of the community.   If you see him in the afternoon, waiting on the corner for the bus to arrive from Countryside, you’ll likely see middle school kids and high school read more…