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?

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