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How are the streets, sidewalks and potholes in your village

2015 February 22
by Greg Reibman

February vacation is over, school returns Monday.  How does your village look?

Rob Garrity mystery solved

2015 February 21
by Greg Reibman

rob garrityThe mystery behind Rob Garrity’s sudden disappearance  from his job as Newton Director of Sustainability has been solved.  Garrity has been named Chief of Staff for MassDOT, he posted on his LinkedIn page yesterday.  Congratulations Rob.

NewTV presents “The Winding Stream” benefit screening

2015 February 21
by Jerry Reilly

WindingStreamNewTV in conjunction with the Newton Nomadic Theater will be presenting a benefit screening of Beth Harrington’s feature length film, “The Winding Stream” on Monday March 30 at NewTV. The film tells the story of “The Carters, the Cashes, and the course of country music” and features read more…

Warren withdraws plan to bring MassChallenge to former Newton Centre branch library

2015 February 20
by Greg Reibman

Mayor Warren sent the following to Newton aldermen Friday afternoon..

Dear Honorable Board

Based on the feedback from the Board of Aldermen, we have decided not to pursue use of the Newton Centre branch library at this time for a partnership with MassChallenge. We will be working to identify alternative sites

Sincerely,

Mayor Setti Warren

What to do with the old Newton Centre Library

2015 February 19
by Chuck Tanowitz

BsLlRAvQLRUOCUi-800x450-noPadWhen I tell folks there’s an old library in Newton Centre (which has recently acted as the health department), they can’t picture it. I can describe it all I want, but most have never been there.

The fact is, the old building is on the National Register of Historic Places and occupies some prime real estate in the center of the city. It’s just steps from the T, has a small parking lot next door and has some of the best bagels in the area right outside its front door.

But what to do with it?

One proposal on the table is to bring MassChallenge to Newton. MassChallenge is a great organization that helps startups get off the ground through an accelerator program. It’s also been the cornerstone of Boston’s Innovation District and was a feather in Mayor Menino’s cap.

The Newton proposal would bring a read more…

After you dig out your fire hydrant, it’s time to start thinking about those storm drains

2015 February 18
by Greg Reibman

Question: What could possibly be worse than more snow?

Answer: Rain and temperatures near 40  predicted for Sunday

UPDATE: Locate your nearest storm drain here.

Heartbreak Hill left at the Olympic altar

2015 February 17
by Greg Reibman

If you, like me, had visions of watching Olympic marathoners run along the hills of Newton in 2024, think again, the Globe reports today

The difficulty of knowing what’s going on at ZBA

2015 February 16
by Julia Malakie

ZBA_page_2014_crop

The news business doesn’t celebrate “Sunshine Week” until March, but we’ve had so many snow threads, and this is a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile.

It’s been a busy past year at the Zoning Board of Appeals, with 40B hearings on Court Street, Wells Ave, Rowe Street, and Goddard Street. But unlike the Aldermanic Committees, whose Reports and audios are usually put up on the city website in a fairly timely manner by City Clerk David Olson, information on what happens at non-Aldermanic boards and commissions is harder to come by. And whether by design, or lack of caring by anyone with the power to do something about it, the ZBA seems particularly opaque, which is troubling considering the interest in development-related issues and 40Bs.

Above is what the ZBA page for 2014 hearings looks like today. The underlined blue items are clickable; all the others have no information accessible online. So only four of 11 agendas are viewable, and only the January 2014 audio and decision are uploaded. No actual minutes are ever uploaded, although presumably some must be kept. This dearth of information prompted me to buy an extra audio recorder to lend to people going to ZBA hearings in order to know what happened; as a result, there are now more recent ZBA audios on the Newton Villages Alliance yourlisten.com page than on the ZBA page. But should do-it-yourself really be necessary to achieve transparency in government?

ZBA_WellsAve_audio receiptAnd to add insult to injury (or maybe it’s the other way around), if you’re a regular person who wants to get an audio of a ZBA hearing, the fee is $15! Two people I know went separately to obtain audio of a Wells Ave 40B hearing that we didn’t manage to record, and were each charged this amount for a CD. This seems rather steep for public information that should and could be readily available on the city website, and if not intended to discourage people from being informed, it could certainly have that effect. By contrast, if someone wants a CD of an Aldermanic committee audio, David Olson tells me they don’t charge if it’s only one. I’m not sure if that’s one per visit, one per lifetime or something in between, but for these audios there is also the option to download the mp3 from the city website.

The Newton Historical Commission, the other development-related commission with actual power (to impose demolition delays), now has all its 2014 agendas, and almost all of its 2014 minutes posted. The Planning & Development Board is great at posting agendas and packets, but not minutes, and the Newton Housing Partnership is not much better than the ZBA at posting anything. As far as I can tell, these two boards are advisory — but they should still at least be posting minutes. And all of these committees could be uploading audios. As that voice used to say at the beginning of The Six Million Dollar Man, “we have the technology.”

 

Here comes the National Guard

2015 February 16
by Jerry Reilly

NationalGuardA neighbor just posted this photo on Facebook, of the National Guard driving down Elliot St in Upper Falls, on their way to Waban to help with snow removal.

What do you think of the Newton Centre Fire Station #3/HQ renovation proposal?

2015 February 16
by Julia Malakie

NCtre_fire station_proposal021815Here’s something much more appealing than yet another snowstorm to chew on. Public Facilities will hold a public hearing this Wednesday, 2/18, on the proposed site plan/design for a new Station #3 and renovated Fire Department HQ. If you can’t make the meeting, you can view the presentation here.

Eight basic configurations were considered, with a variation of Option 7 being preferred. It has the advantages of preserving the historic HQ building, and not requiring it to be moved, preserving the green space on Centre Street (thus leaving the 9-11 Memorial alone), requiring only a minimal easement on the MWRA property, and not requiring acquisition of the commercial property on the corner.

The variation of Option 7 is to have new connecting wing come off the HQ at an oblique, rather than right angle. Compared to Option 7 itself, this appears to enable access to the parking lot from Willow Street, rather than through the present Verizon vault access.

It also would appear to allow preservation of what looks like the tallest tree on the site, which I really hope will be considered. You can see this tree just northeast of the HQ on the aerial view of the present site. (Being on the north side, it would not interfere with what look like solar panels on the roof of the equipment bay.) Other than that, it looks like existing trees will be undisturbed, and more added.

There is another set of numbers, 1, 1A, 2, and 2A, for different materials options for the exterior of the new wing, which I haven’t figured out the pros and cons of. Would anyone more knowledgable like to weigh in?

Where to find your nearest fire hydrant

2015 February 14
by Greg Reibman

This map will show you where the fire hydrants in your village are buried.

“Turn of the Screw” – the library tour

2015 February 15
by Jerry Reilly

The Newton Nomadic Theater’s latest production, WebLogo“The Turn of the Screw” opened on Friday with a performance at Gregorian Rugs.

The show was a barn burner and the performances were fantastic.  Marge Dunn in the role of the governess tells the ghost story from her point of view.  She starts off quietly and demurely and the tension slowly builds.  By the story’s climax she had risen to a frenzy and had the entire audience by the throat.  Billy Meleady, who also featured in the theater’s last production “Faith Healer” is back as both an actor and the director for “Turn of the Screw”.   By the story’s end he was completely channeling Miles, a disturbed and disturbing ten year old boy.  It’s a powerful, eerie and mysterious night of theater.  Don’t miss it!

This week the production moves to the Waban Library on Friday night and then on to the Auburndale Library for Saturday and Sunday nights.   For those of you in Waban and Auburndale, you’ll be able to walk to you neighborhood theater and see a stunning ghost story come to life this weekend.  How cool is that?

Tickets and info at http://NewtonNomadicTheater/turn-of-the-screw