Fuller: Why I will vote ‘yes’ on Northland on March 3

Fuller: Why I will vote ‘yes’ on Northland on March 3

In an oped in today’s TAB, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller shares her concerns and, ultimately, her enthusiasm for the Northland Newton project.

We should do something better with these 22.6 acres. The site now consists of an empty parking lot, decaying industrial warehouses, a single-story retail big box store, and a charming but deteriorating historic former piano mill. Drive or walk around this aging industrial complex (put 275 Needham Street into your GPS) and see for yourself.

A significant portion of the 22.6 acres (perhaps as much as 40% of the site) will be transformed from concrete to parkland, greens and a spray park/playground with 750 new trees and a restored and daylighted South Meadow Brook..

Not familiar with the Northland site? Take this tour

Not familiar with the Northland site? Take this tour

Many of us on Village 14 have been following the Northland project closely over the past three years and are quite familiar with the ways the project has changed over the years (for example, it shrunk from 2 million square feet to 1.1 million square feet and about a year ago Northland decided to place all the parking underground in order to create more parks and open space).

But as we get closer to the March 3 referendum, I’ve been running into a lot people who understandably are just beginning to learn about the project; including some who aren’t even that familiar with the location.

That was the case with a neighbor, who recently asked me how “800 apartments, as well as office, retail and parks could all fit into Marshalls Plaza?” The answer is

When do you think the Northland referendum should be held?

When do you think the Northland referendum should be held?

The Newton City Council will meet Wednesday night in a special session to either repeal last month’s 17-7 super-majority Northland vote or to set a date for a special election.

While a repeal is unlikely, as City Clerk David Olson explained in a memo last week, the council has essentially three general choices when it comes to scheduling a date:

On March 3 in conjunction with the Super Tuesday presidential primaries (at a cost of approximately $32,917)
Sometime between mid-March and early May (at a cost of approximately $145,902)
At the next municipal election on Nov. 2, 2021 (where presumably it would be part of the regular ballot at no added expense).

Olson’s memo also contains a lot of historical data on voter turnout, suggesting that turnout on March 3 could be 20 to 30 percent points higher than a standalone spring election where Northland is the only item before voters.

As we saw during a brief debate at Monday’s council meeting (go to the 22:24 mark on the video below), this is going to be contentious. There’s also a very good chance that a minority of four councilors will

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