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The Board of Aldermen is scheduled to vote this Tuesday – tomorrow, the day after Labor Day – on the Zervas School Building Committee’s recommendation to acquire three residential properties on Beacon Street to expand the Zervas site.

The Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council has been monitoring the Zervas design process and providing community input regarding traffic, walkability, open space, and neighborhood impact.  The NHNAC Zervas Working Group opposes this acquisition and has recently proposed “Plan B” – an alternative site plan to create more open space, increase pedestrian safety, and avoid spending $2.4 million to acquire the abutting properties. (Disclosure: I’m on the NHNAC Zervas Working Group.)

Accompanying this alternative plan is a survey of the 45 mature trees (18 species) in and around those properties that the current ZSBC plan would remove to make parking lots.  Newton’s Urban Tree Commission has written a letter to the ZSBC and Design Review Committee to advocate for the preservation and protection of those “stately and spectacular” trees.

The NHNAC has also written a response to concerns raised about its Plan B by members of the ZSBC.  Take a look the plans and weigh in.  Is there something about the current ZSBC plan that’s worth an extra $2.4M and the loss of a 45-tree greenscape on Beacon Street? Is there something important and requiring a site expansion that NHNAC’s Plan B misses?

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