The city will hold a Newtonville Village day on September 29th in which they will shut down Walnut Street along the shopping district. This promises to be great fun and, hopefully, a boost for the businesses there. According to the article in the TAB, it will include a jazz band, sidewalk dining and a number of other street fair-like elements.

It’s an enormous undertaking, a 12-hour event (10am to 10pm):

Between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Village Day will feature live jazz courtesy of New England Jazz Productions, rides, face painting, craft booths, theatre and much more. In the evening, Walnut Street will close to traffic for outdoor dining, live music and dancing

If you are interested in helping out, or have questions, you can contact Ana Gonzalez at 617-796-1100, or [email protected]

I love things like this as it brings life to the village and, hopefully, brings out people who wouldn’t normally come. But I’m wondering if we can start planning now for something more permanent and radical, something that would truly test some theories we have about Newton.

What if, for every weekend during June, July and August of 2013, we eliminate parking on Walnut street, put up barriers, and let the stores spill out onto the streets? Maybe even allow temporary vendors to set up tables or food trucks to use some of the spaces (gasp!).

We can give each store right of first refusal for the spot in front of their establishment. Restaurants and cafes can put out more than just 2 tables and really encourage outdoor dining. Stores can have regular sidewalk sales, bringing their wares to the people rather than the other way around. Banks can…. well… I have no idea.

By eliminating parking we can leave the street open to through-traffic but still allow for a more lively downtown area. Perhaps we can even bring in some of the parking space-sized bike locks that have popped up around Cambridge and Somerville.

The Austin Street lot offers ample space and is free on the weekends (even as people pay the meters on Walnut Street). It would allow Newton to have a regular place where people can experience a more urban lifestyle, but not on a one-off, come-and-celebrate kind of way, but in a way that tests the viability of long-term changes that can make the city a more livable, walkable and interesting environment.

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