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Newton Villages relaunches its website (and doesn’t keep its members a secret)

2014 August 19
by Greg Reibman

nvaThe advocacy group Newton Villages, which calls itself “A City-wide Coalition to Improve our Village Centers,” was formed in 2009 but has been inactive for a while.

But perhaps in response to all the recent development developments — as well as the recently formed citizens’ group Newton Villages Alliance (which says its about “Preserving the Character and Scale of the Garden City”)  — Newton Villages has just relaunched its website.

And unlike the mysterious NVA, this group isn’t shy about divulging who is on its steering committee or perhaps that it enjoys beer and watching Channel 4.

Hecht: Newton used the wrong type of LED bulbs

2014 August 18
by Greg Reibman

Jeff Hecht,  a science and technology writer who lives in Auburndale,  wrote about Newton’s new street light replacement program, in the Newton TAB last week.

When we returned from vacation at the end of July, the LED street lights we found in our Auburndale neighborhood were a huge disappointment. The new LED bulbs emit an extremely harsh, glaring bluish light that intrudes into our house. The lighting that reaches the ground seems several times brighter than the old street lamps, much brighter than is needed at night. The glare washes out the sky. When I went outside on a night with a few clouds, I could see only a handful of stars and the moon looked dim in comparison with the glaring streetlights.

….This is not just a problem of appearance. The body’s daily rhythm of alertness and rest depend on receptors in the eye that respond to blue light. As the sun rises higher in the sky, the fraction of blue light increases and we become more alert; as the sun sinks low, the fraction of blue light drops and we get ready for sleep. Too much blue light at the wrong time can disrupt some people’s sleeps. Animals have a similar sensory response, so bright bluish streetlights will disrupt their diurnal rhythms. Bright night lighting can also affect plants.

Ice Bucket Challenge – Is Our Children Learning?

2014 August 15
by Doug Haslam

I’m going to assume that most people who come to this blog have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge – essentially, it is one of those social tagging games, where you ask three friends to do something silly, and they have to ask three friends. In this case the silly thing is to dump a bucket of ice water over your head and post a video of yourself doing it. This incarnation of the Challenge was created by former BC athlete Peter Frates to raise awareness of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and encourage donations to the ALS Association. All noble and for a good cause- in fact, it has been reported, as this Challenge spread throughout the Web, that more than $4 million dollars have been raised, compered to less than a third of that in the same period last year.

What does this have to do with Newton?

I found out about the Challenge through my son. I didn’t know at the time that it was based on read more…

Governor’s Council and Ward 3 Alderman debates Sept. 3

2014 August 14
by Village 14

Join NewTV and the League of Women Voters of Newton (LWVN) for an evening with the candidates for the Governor’s Council (3rd District) and for Ward 3 Ward Alderman.  Audience members can watch the debates live from the NewTV conference room.  The debate will also be shown at a later day/time on NewTV’s Government Channel and on the web at

Send us your questions!  NewTV and LWVN want to hear from you about the issues and questions you read more…

Stop the hemorrhage, or let the demolition derby continue?

2014 August 13

Ward3demoPermitSlideLast Thursday a special meeting of the Zoning & Planning Committee discussed #237‐14, Alderman Amy Sangiolo’s request for a one-year moratorium on demolition of single- and two-family homes, while the Board of Aldermen addresses issues of the size and scale of new construction, the conversion of single-family to two- and more family structures, the definition of two-family vs attached dwellings, snout and sideways-facing houses, regrading and retaining walls, and loss of trees and green space. (This was a followup to an earlier discussion I wrote about in June.)

Both the meeting audio and Amy’s PowerPoint presentation (appended to the meeting Report) are on the city website, so you can look and listen at the same time.

The mayor has told Amy that he’s against the moratorium, and he wants instead to proceed with zoning reform. But aldermen in favor of the moratorium including Sangiolo, Vicki Danberg, Brian Yates, and Dick Blazar, make the point that if we wait for Phase 2 of zoning reform, hundreds more houses and much of the character and diversity of income that we’re trying to preserve will be lost in the interim. The Planning Department’s memo (scroll down below the agenda) reports 102 demolitions in FY14, up from 80 in FY13. July’s Newton Historical Commission agenda included 23 requests for full house demolitions.

The map above shows demolition permits issued for Ward 3 from 2005 to mid-2014. You can see the other read more…

Fireworks in Newton this Saturday

2014 August 13
by Greg Reibman

Don’t forget the July 4 fireworks that were washed out due to the anticipated heavy rain from Hurricane Arthur, are happening this Saturday evening at Albemarle Field on Watertown St.

The August 16 festivities include a read more…

We take you now to the floor of Newton’s Aldermanic Chambers

2014 August 12
by Greg Reibman

aldermen floorWork crews at Newton City Hall are taking advantage of the Board of Aldermen’s summer break to give the Aldermanic Chambers a much needed clean-up, including a long-overdue refurbishing of the floor. Too bad that furniture will be moved back as soon as it dries, it would be a great place for a basketball game.




Newton’s EDC looking for excellent businesses

2014 August 11
by Greg Reibman
Newton’s Economic Development Commission is now accepting nominations for its third annual  Business Excellence Awards. – See more at:

Newton’s Economic Development Commission is now accepting nominations for its third annual  Business Excellence Awards.

There are five categories which a nominee may be considered – The Village Business Awards (up to one per village), The Destination Business Award, The Citizen Champion Award, Community Business Award and The Jerry Adams Award. Anyone may submit a nomination for consideration. Full details can be found here.

- See more at:

Newton’s Economic Development Commission wants your help recognizing the businesses that make Newton special.

Its third annual Newton Business Excellence Awards ceremony will be held at the Newton War Memorial at Newton City Hall on Oct. 20 and the EDC is now seeking nominations for the awards.

Full details are here.  The on-line nomination form is here.

Sept. 15 is the deadline.


Angier demolition begins

2014 August 11
by Chris Steele

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” – Sir Winston Churchill

2014-06-14 17.00.27

After shaping generations of children for over 90 years, AE Angier Elementary School’s final chapter ended today.  After removal of windows and some items which will be included into the new school (the medallions over each of the main entry doors for example), final demolition of the structure began this morning.

Angier students will be bussed to the Carr school for the next 18 months, maintaining their identity as “Angier at Carr,” with a projected return to the new school to take place around February of 2016.

Old Angier had fallen victim to both poor maintenance and to changing educational2014-08-11 12.17.28 requirements over the years, rendering the facility a top MSBA replace/renovate candidate.  It will be up to the new facility to “shape” the next generations of Angier students.

Farewell dear friend.


7:45am Wednesday meeting about Rowe St 40B (but we hope no one notices)

2014 August 11
by Julia Malakie

RoweStnoticeHow well-notified are you feeling about city meetings?  As a resident of a neighborhood near 70 Rowe Street, Auburndale, the site of a proposed 150-unit apartment building, I found my notice about the last (June 19) meeting hidden amongst the weekly grocery fliers that I sometimes have time to look at, sometimes not.

There’s another public meeting coming up this Wednesday, August 13, at 7:45AM, in Room 202 at City Hall, when the Newton Housing Partnership will review the proposal.  I learned about this one from an email sent last night by a resident named Reilly who said this:

We received the attached notification of a public hearing regarding this project on 8/9/14.  The letter was dated 8/8/14 and apparently mailed on that day as well.  You can only imagine our utter surprise when we discovered that the date for this public hearing is on 8/13/14 at 7:45 AM… an advance notice of two business days on a day when most people are likely in traffic heading to work. Really? What are the city’s by-laws regarding advance notice of interested parties in public hearings regarding zoning?

and also noted that there was never the followup to the original June 19 meeting that was supposed to happen because a number of residents had prior commitments including school graduations on that evening.

I re-checked my grocery fliers, and found nothing about the August 13 meeting.

This morning the official city email from Robert Muollo in Planning, to the “interested resident” list arrived, 8:44am on a Monday before a Wednesday meeting, containing the agenda.

At 8:55am, Ward 4 alderman Lenny Gentile sent this  to Robert:

We could do a lot better than 2 days notice about a meeting of such importance that is being held in the summer when many residentsof the neighborhood may well be out of town.

And at 9:39 Ward 4 aldeman Amy Sangiolo sent this:

Dear Rob,
While I do appreciate the meeting notification, I would note that it is rather late.  I cannot imagine that the Housing Partnership just recently put this on their August agenda.  At minimum, a weeks notice should have been provided to the neighbors.  Further, it would really have been nice to have given the Ward 4 and Ward. 3 Aldermen notice in advance of having to find out about this meeting from the neighbors.
Aldermen Harney and myself are not able to attend as we both have work commitments. We will be sending a letter to the partnership regarding our opposition to the project as currently proposed
Finally, i will also forward you a copy of a supplemental letter offered by the Ward 4 Aldermen sent to David Hanifin today regarding this proposal.
And a few minutes later, one of the residents sent this and copied everyone:

Dear Robert and Mayor Warren,

We appreciate this notice. However, this 2-day notice about a meeting for such importance is really disappointing. Does this indicate that the city doesn’t want to address community’s concerns seriously, and just plan to make this meeting as a show?
As I noted last night in letting people on the West Newton Neighborhood Google group know about this meeting, I’m not sure how much power the Newton Housing Partnership has, or is interested in exercising, but they do appear to take public comments. But perhaps the lackadaisical public notice about the meeting reflects the city’s attitude that the NHP doesn’t really matter?

Highlands MBTA Stop to be made Accessible

2014 August 11
by Groot Gregory

NH_MBTARobert Solomon, a resident of Newton Highlands and member for the Highlands Area Council, has been on a mission to improve the accessibility of the Highlands T Stop. This started with an effort to get the drivers trained in the loading and unloading of wheel chairs and then to have the stop upgraded like Newton Centre. After a couple of years of calls, letters and editorials Robert’s efforts are paying off with the initiation of the feasibility design phase of this project to make the stop fully accessible.

Thanks go out to State Rep Ruth Balser for moving legislation to fund the work by including an amendment to the transportation bond bill for $2 Million to improve the path and raise the platform.  As well as Mayor Setti Warren for expressing the city’s priority for this project to the MBTA.

In the fall the MBTA will be hold a community meeting to outline the project. The Area Council is working on locations for the meeting in the Highlands and we hope that folks attend to share their input.


Newton School Committee to meet Wednesday for 1st time since Fleishman news broke

2014 August 11
by Greg Reibman

The Newton School Committee will hold a rare matinee meeting this week, its first public meeting since the Lions Roar broke the news that Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman plagiarized portions of his June graduation speeches.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 2 p.m. at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street.

The Fleishman incident does not appear on the agenda. (Interesting to note that a Superintendent Assessment was on the July 15 agenda, when the SC knew about the incident but the public did not.)

However, presumably the topic could read more…