One of the common arguments we’re heard signature gatherers are using as they look to overturn the Newton City’s Council’s 17-10 Northland vote is that the city has rushed this project without hearing from the public.
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Even before the Land Use committee held 15 public meetings, there were dozens and dozens and dozens of community meetings, not to mention the months-long Needham Street Vision process, which included a wide cross section of community members.
In fact this project has been in front of the city for so long that Barack Obama was president, the Brits has just approved Brexit and David Price was pitching in his first season as a member of the Red Sox when then Mayor Setti Warren introduced this project back in 2016
Of course, since that 2016 community kick off event, this project has been substantially reduced in scope from 2 million to 1.1 million square feet, thanks to some tough negotiations by our “listening to the public” city leaders. The number of housing units was decreased from 950 to 800, while the ratio of affordable units was increased. Also changed: A massive garage was removed in favor of underground parking; more open space was added; ground breaking sustainability measures (that have been praised by environmentalists) were introduced; as was a free to all electric shuttle bus system, millions in mitigation, a splash park that neighbors asked for, and on and on.
So please, dislike the project if you will, but stop standing in front of grocery stores saying that Norhland or the City Council hasn’t listened or that the city didn’t achieve significant concessions and improvements over three years of listening and negotiating.
Because that’s just not true.