What’s Happening in Newton this Week – Almost everything closed – except Supermarkets, Pharmacies, and Food Establishments – take-out and delivery only and any public gathering place with more than 25 people; City Council meeting and School Committee Meetings go virtual, City Board and Commission Meetings still on schedule (Parks and Rec will definitely be call-in – not sure about other Board and Commission meetings), ASCEND (retail marijuana establishment) and 478 space parking waiver gets approved by Land Use Committee and more…..

Governor closes MA schools, gatherings of more than 25 people and dine-in restaurant and bars: According to the Boston.com: The Governor just announced that “schools in Massachusetts will close for at least three weeks, and all gatherings of more than 25 people will be banned in the latest attempt to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Sunday.

The governor also ordered all dine-in restaurants and bars to close for a month. Take-away and delivery services won’t be affected by the rules, nor will grocery stores or pharmacies.”

This comes after the City of Newton made the decision to close our public schools on March 12th:

Dear NPS Families,

For the past two weeks, we have been working closely with the Newton Department of  Health and Human Services to reduce the community spread of COVID-19. We have received many emails from concerned families and understand that this is a stressful and unsettling time.
Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our region, coupled with new guidance from the Governor, the state, infectious disease experts, and our local health partners, we have made the difficult decision to close the Newton Public Schools beginning tomorrow, Friday, March 13. There will be no school tomorrow, next week and possibly for a longer period. 

David Fleishman March 12th Letter to Parents

City Council and School Committee Meetings Go Virtual: Yup – The Governor also issued an Executive Order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law. According to the Mass Municipal Association:

” The order relieves public bodies from the requirement in the open meeting law that meetings be conducted in a public place that is open and physically accessible to the public, provided that the public body makes provision to ensure public access to the deliberations of the public body through adequate, alternative means.

In addition, all members of a public body may participate in a meeting remotely, the AG’s office states. The open meeting law’s requirement that a quorum of the body and the chair be physically present at the meeting location is suspended.

All other provisions of the open meeting law, such as the requirements regarding posting notice of meetings and creating and maintaining accurate meeting minutes, as well as the limited, enumerated purposes for holding an executive session, remain in effect. “


So far, the Parks and Rec Commission (See agenda is the only Board or Commission that has posted it will have a call-in option. Check the City’s website to see if more up-to-date info will be available. (NOTE: Just received the Mayor’s newsletter suggesting that all Board and Commission meetings will also go virtual. As of this time, there is no Zoom or call-in numbers listed on the agendas of the Boards and Commission on the Electronic Posting Board. Please continue to check the City’s website for more updated information).

In the meantime, everyone, please stay safe, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face, and please practice and make your children practice safe social distancing. We need to do our part to flatten the curb and help keep everyone as safe as possible.

Land Use Committee approved ASCEND Retail Marijuana dispensary and a waiver of 478 parking spaces in Newton Centre: The request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a retail marijuana shop to be located at 58 Cross Street/1089 Washington Street (at the old Beacon Hill Sports Club location) has been approved by the Land Use Committee and is before the City Council TONIGHT for approval. See Land Use Committee Report here and Draft Council Order here. The Land Use Committee also voted to approve a request to waive 478 parking spaces in Newton Centre and is also before the City Council TONIGHT. The Land Use Committee Report can be found here, and the Draft Council Order can be found here.

Finance Committee approves ordinance amendments for enforcement and fines for sidewalk obstruction: The Finance Committee voted to approve amendments that would allow the Public Works Department to send out a written warning and after 30 days there will be $50 per day fine. Sidewalk obstructions include your bushes which block passage to all or a portion of the sidewalk. See Finance Committee Report here.

Concerned about Facial Recognition Surveillance? The Public Safety and Transportation Committee will hold a virtual meeting this Wednesday and will have a discussion with a representative from the ACLU regarding the current policy environment on facial surveillance technologies. See Public Safety and Transportation Committee Agenda here.

Weekly Road Construction Schedule now available: The Weekly Road Construction Schedule can be found here.