Category: Default

COVID-19 Makes it to Newton

In a letter to NPS Parents, Superintendent of Newton Public Schools, David Fleishman wrote the following:

March 8, 2020 – 8:00 p.m.

Dear NPS Community,

The Newton Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has informed us that a Newton resident with a student in a Newton school has been diagnosed with a presumptive case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  

We want to share what we know at this point:

  • This afternoon, we were notified by Newton HHS that a city resident had received a presumed positive test for COVID-19 and that this individual has a child at Horace Mann.
  • We were also notified that the student is healthy and not exhibiting symptoms.
  • The student is following the quarantine protocol from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) until cleared to return to school.
  • As with any communicable disease, cities and schools are required to follow the direction from the MDPH.  

Additionally, we want to share the following information with you:  

Newton Department of Health and Human Services

Newton Department of Health and Human Services remains the primary point of contact for any communicable disease information. Their work is informed by the MDPH and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We will continue to follow their direction and guidance. If you have traveled internationally, you may be subject to quarantine and should review the guidelines which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html  

Cleaning impacted building and all school buildings

The Facilities Department is conducting deep cleaning and disinfecting at Horace Mann prior to opening tomorrow. We have strengthened cleaning protocols at all schools, with a focus on high touch points. We are conducting close monitoring of hand towel and soap dispensers to ensure regular refill and have purchased a large supply of hand sanitizer to be distributed to all schools.

Confidentiality

As with any medical information, confidentiality about our staff, students, and families must be maintained at all times according to federal regulations. Information about reasons for absences, travel history and illness cannot be given out and must be protected.

Resources for talking with children about COVID-19

Concern over COVID-19 can make children and families anxious. We encourage parents and staff to use the attached resource from Riverside Trauma Center when talking with children about it. An important message is for children to know that adults at home and school are taking care of their health and safety. Encourage children to reach out to a trusted adult if they have concerns.

Moving Forward

We are planning for an on-time opening of all schools on Monday, March 9th, as are neighboring town schools and communities who are addressing the same scenario we are experiencing. We will continue to track and trend illness in all of the schools. Anyone who is ill should remain at home and we ask that you please consult with your primary care physician if you have any questions or concerns about sending your child to school.

Anytime there is an outbreak of a virus or illness, it can be very unsettling for families and staff. Keeping everyone informed, safe and healthy remains our priority. This situation is evolving and we encourage everyone to monitor the Newton Health and Human Services Department’s website for the latest information and any special instructions: http://www.newtonma.gov/COVID19. Residents can find more information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/frequently-asked-questions-about-covid-19#what-are-the-symptoms-and-complications-of-covid-19?-

We will continue to keep you informed as this situation evolves. Thank you for your support and understanding.  

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools

Attachment:Riverside Trauma Center – Managing Reactions to the Coronavirus

What’s Up in Newton this Week – Early Voting for Presidential Primaries, Northland Referendum, and Democratic and Republican State and City Committees, Riverside Project in front of Land Use – focus on Transportation, Request for New Liquor Licenses for not one but two locations at UMASS Amherst – Mt. Ida Campus, and Next NewCAL community meeting at the Senior Center

Early Voting Begins TODAY! Early Voting for the March 3 Elections will be held at Newton City Hall on: Monday, February 24 through Thursday, February 27, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Friday, February 28, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A sample ballot with the municipal referendum can be found here. Unfortunately, a complete sample ballot listing all of the Presidential candidates and the local Republican and Democratic State and City Committee candidates is not currently posted.

Riverside on the Land Use Agenda: The Land Use Committee will continue its discussion and review of the Riverside Change of Zone and Special Permit and Site Plan Approval requests on Tuesday, February 25th at 7:00 p.m. The Land Use Committee will focus the discussion on Transportation. The agenda can be found here and the Planning Department Memo can be found here.

New Liquor License Requests from UMASS Amherst? UMASS Amherst at Mt. Ida is seeking two new all alcohol and entertianment license requests for the Top of the Campus – located at Carlson Hall and Top of the Campus – located at Shaw Hall – both to be operated Monday – Sunday from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. The Licensing Commission agenda can be found here.

Next NewCAL Meeting – Thursday, February 27th at the Senior Center: The next NewCAL Community meeting will be held this Thursday, February 27th at the Senior Center, beginning at 7:00 p.m. PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION. Previous meetings were held at the Ed Center. Additional information can be found here.

School Committee to Meet on Monday, February 10th

The School Committee will meet on Monday, February 10th at 6:00 p.m. in Room 210 at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street. The Committee is expected to vote to move into Executive Session for the purpose of conducting strategy sessions in preparation of contract negotiations for non-union personnel – Superintendent and an update regarding litigation and convene in Room 304. The School Committee will then convene in Regular Session at 7:00 p.m. in Room 210. The agenda includes the following:

What’s Up in Newton this Week? Property Taxes Due TODAY, 478 Space Parking Waiver (Picadilly Square) and Temporary Moratorium on Local Landmarking before the City Council TONIGHT, and more….

Property Taxes Due TODAY. If you are like me and didn’t mail in your taxes, they are due TODAY.

478 Parking Waiver Request to be voted on TONIGHT: Two weeks ago, the Special Permit/Site Plan Approval Request to allow a restaurant with more than 50 seats and a parking waiver of 478 spaces was chartered and is scheduled to be voted on TONIGHT. According to the Planning Department Memo:

Due to lack of support for the request to allow restaurants with more than 50 seats as a blanket waiver in perpetuity, the petitioner has withdrawn this request and will pursue the special permit once a specific tenant is identified. The remaining relief to be granted is to allow a parking waiver of 478 stalls to allow flexibility in leasing, and faster turnover of tenant spaces in Newton Centre.

Temporary Moratorium on Local Landmarking – to be voted on TONIGHT. The Zoning and Planning Committee voted to approve the proposed Temporary Moratorium on Local Landmarking amending the timeframe to 6 months and a review within 3 months. See Report. The Full Council is expected to vote on this TONIGHT.

A Night of Danger: The next Newton Nomadic Theatre Story Slam – On Sunday, February 9th at 7:00 p.m., the Newton Nomad Story Slam will be held at Gregorian Rugs, 2284 Washington Street, Newton Lower Falls. More information and tickets can be found here.

Newton Resident, Nathan Phillips, launches hunger strike to call attention to public health and safety violations at the site of the Weymouth Compressor Station

Newton resident, BU professor, environmental activist, and friend, Nathan Phillips, began a hunger strike this past Wednesday, January 29th, to call attention to serious public health and safety violations occurring at the site of the ill-conceived Weymouth Compressor station. Nathan describes his concerns in a personal statement regarding the violations which he believes threatens the health of residents of the Fore River Basin and along routes across the Commonwealth and beyond. Mothers Out Front, sent an email this week asking for folks to support Nathan and

…elevate the cause he has bravely embraced by making phone calls, tweeting, posting and messaging at the two men in our state who have the power to act on Nathan’s – and our – demand that the law be obeyed at the Weymouth Compressor station. So far they have refused to do so. We are hoping to get as many calls and tweets to Governor Baker and the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Suuberg as we can over the weekend – so they find their boxes full on Monday morning!  We will continue these actions on Monday when they are back at work as well. 

Nathan is doing well. getting lots of support and caretaking, so the best way you can help is to amplify the message of his hunger strike and reach out directly to Governor Baker and the Depa,tment of Environmental Protection Commissioner Suuberg to meet Nathan’s three demands!   

For CALLS: Please call Gov. Baker’s office 617-725-4005 and DEP Commissioner Suuberg’s office 617-292-5500, and say, “I am calling to urge you to meet the three demands that will allow the ongoing hunger strike of Nathan Phillips to end.”  

The demands are: 

1. All dump trucks leaving the site abide by the decontamination measures outlined on page 27 of the Release Abatement Measures plan of November 25, 2019, which require a decontamination pad/station and other measures to clean tires and exterior vehicle surfaces of site residue. 

2. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection commences comprehensive testing for asbestos in furnace bricks and in the coal ash matrix, across and throughout the vertical profile of the North Parcel.  

3. The Baker administration commits to a date certain, no later than two weeks from today, for the installation and operation of an air quality monitor as Governor Baker pledged action on ‘within a couple of days’ on Radio Boston on January 23, 2020. 

FYI: Suuberg’s extension for messages is: #71098 

On TWITTER: Use this Hashtag:#Hunger4JusticeMA 

@350Mass Nathan Phillips:             @nathanpboston Mass Department of Environmental Protection:  @MassDEP Governor Baker:             @MassGovernor FRRACS:                      @FRRACS_MA


Full City Council to Meet on Monday, February 3rd

The Full City Council will meet on Monday, February 3rd at 7:45 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The Reports Docket can be found here and the Revised New Docket can be found here. Please note: The President of the Council will request a roll call vote to go into Executive Session to hear from legal counsel regarding an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed against the City Council. – See Open Meeting Law Complaint

Also, please note that the Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a restaurant with more than 50 seats and a parking waiver of 478 parking stalls for properties located at 93-105 Union Street, 1280 Centre Street, 47-61 Langley Road, 49-63 Union Street and 790-794 Beacon Street was chartered at the last Full Council Meeting and is once again before the Council. See – Planning Department Memo with a Draft Council Order.

City Council Committee Reports – Now Available

Programs and Services Committee – 1/22/2020 Report: The Programs and Services Committee voted to approve the following:

  • 4 Appointments to the Youth Commission:
    • Anna Kusiak
    • Anabel Marre
    • Andrew Li
    • Shiv Sawhney
  • Appointment of Sue Rasala to the Council on Aging
  • Re-appointment of Elizabeth Dugan to the Council on Aging

Public Safety and Transportation – 1/29/2020 Report: The Public Safety and Transportation Committee voted to approve the following:

  • Request to appropriate and expend $900,000 from June 30, 2019 Certified Free Cash to Fire Rescue Full Time Salaries Account

Note: There was a substantive discussion on the following item that was discussed jointly with the Public Facilities Committee (see Public Facilities Committee Report below):

  • Request discussion with the administration and school officials on transportation priorities and and public works/streets/sidewalks, etc.

Public Facilities – 1/22/2020 Report: The Public Facilities Committee voted to approve the following:

  • Request to transfer $1,000,000 from Budget Reserve – Snow and Ice Removal Account to DPW Overtime, Snow and Ice Removal and DPW Rental Vehicles/Subcontractors Accounts
  • Public Hearing on Request for Grant of Location (Eversource Energy) to relocate one pole northerly from its existing location in front of 3-5 Claflin Place to the south side of Claflin Place
  • Three Public Hearings on Request for Grants of Location (National Grid):
    • to install and maintain a gas main in Jackson Street
    • to install and maintain a gas main in Sargent Street
    • to install and maintain a gas main in David Road

NOTE: There was substantive discussion on the following items:

  • Request discussion with the administration and school officials on transportation priorities and and public works/streets/sidewalks, etc., and
  • Update from the Commissioner of Public Buildings on ongoing Public Building projects in municipal buildings, schools, the library and NewCAL

Zoning and Planning Committee – 1/27/2020 Report: The Zoning and Planning Committee voted to approve the following:

  • Request to amend Chapter 22 of the Revised Newton City Ordinances, 2017, to temporarily suspend nominations made by the Historical Commission and by the City Council for landmark designations. The temporary suspension will prevent and suspend the processing, and approval of any property currently under consideration for landmark designation and will temporarily suspend future landmark designations made by the Historical Commission and the City Council. Landmark nominations made by the Mayor, Director of Planning of Development and the Commissioner of Inspectional Services shall not be affected. This temporary suspension shall end no later than December 31, 2020. NOTE: The Committee amended the item and approved a 6-month moratorium and a review in Committee in three months.

All other items were held.

Land Use Committee – 1/28/2020 Report: The Land Use Committee voted to approve the following:

  • Request for a Class 2 Auto Dealer License – Paragon Exports
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow parking design criteria including waivers to: interior landscaping requirements, lighting requirements, to allow parking accessory to a manufacturing use in a residential district and to allow parking in the front and side setback at 287-289 Newtonville Avenue – See Draft Council Order

All other items were held.

Finance Committee – 1/29/2020 Report: The Finance Committee voted to approve the following:

  • Request to transfer $1,000,000 from Budget Reserve- Snow and Ice Removal Account to the DPW Overtime, Snow and Ice Removal and DPW Rental Vehicles/Subcontractors Accounts
  • Request to appropriate and expend $900,000 from June 30, 2019 Certified Free Cash to Fire Rescue Full Time Salaries
  • Request to appropriate and expend $41,869 from E-Rate reimbursement funds to purchase the conversion of the phone system at Williams Elementary School to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – (amended to substitute Burr School as Williams School was converted in 2018)
  • Request to accept and expend a $3,000 grant from the US Food and Drug Administration for Environmental Health Specialist training- NOTE: This item was amended to $6,000 – for the acceptance of two grants
  • Request to accept and expend a $200,000 Housing Choice Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to study the possibility of converting the West Newton Armory into affordable housing

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of February 2nd

Chairmen’s Meeting: The Chair’s of each Committee will meet on Monday, February 3rd at 6:45 p.m. in Room 211. The agenda includes the following:

  • Rules issues from Chairs and Members – Rules to be updated and reviewed
  • Legislative Agenda – what happened in committees – can there be a write-up for the TAB
  • Open Meeting Law – Is there a need for another training
  • Will Clerk find a place for communications in every committee area (?)
  • Suggestions for members of Boards and Commissions – list of openings will be provided
  • Other issues from the floor

Land Use Committee: The Land Use Committee will meet on Tuesday, February 4th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a free-standing sign on the property located at 40 Austin Street – (Rockland Bank) – See Planning Memo
  • Request to amend a previously approved Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a new free-standing sign on the property located at 84 Needham Street (Creative Bookfair) – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a for-profit educational use at the existing building at 66 Winchester Street – (Olympia Fencing Center) – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow retail marijuana sales and waivers to lighting requirements at 58 Cross Street/1089 Washington Street – ASCEND MASS, LLC – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a retail marijuana establishment, to waive the minimum driveway width for two-way traffic, to waive perimeter screening requirements and to waive lighting requirements at 1158 Beacon Street – Union Twist – See Planning Memo

Public Facilities Committee: The Public Facilities Committee will meet on Wednesday, February 5th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda includes the following:

  • Two appointments to the Solid Waste Commission:
    • Meryl Kessler
    • Carl Valente
  • Request for an update on the status of the Solar Phase 3 Projects
  • Request for an update on the status of the Climate Action Plan
  • Request to transfer $500,000 from the Budget Reserve – Snow and Ice Removal Account to the following accounts:
    • $200,000 to DPW Overtime, Snow and Ice Removal
    • $300,000 to DPW Rental Vehicles/Subcontractors

Programs and Services Committee: The Programs and Services Committee will meet on Wednesday, February 5th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 211. The agenda includes the following:

  • Chair’s Note: There will be a brief update on an item requesting the Mayor submit a new Crescent Street proposal
  • Request for a discussion with the Administration for the creation of an online or phone-based staff directory so that citizens can be directly connected to city staff
  • Request for a discussion with the Complete Count Committee Newton’s plans to ensure that all Newton residents are counted in the next census
  • Request to move the pollling location for Ward 2 Precinct 1 which is currently at the former Horace Mann Elementary School to the Albemarle Field House at 250 Albemarle Road

Public Safety and Transportation Committee: The regularly scheduled Public Safety and Transportation Committee meeting has been cancelled. The Meeting Cancellation Notice can be found here.

Development Review Team Meetings – Week of February 2nd

The following potential projects/proposals are scheduled to meet with the Development Review Team this week:

  • 409-411 Lexington Street – Special Permit to construct a 20-unit multi-family dwelling
  • 24 Berkeley Street – Proposed enlargement of a sport court
  • 30-32 Salisbury Road – Proposed Accessory Apartment over existing detached 4 car garage
  • 16 Hyde Sreet – Proposed home office/accessory apartment in a detached structure

The Development Review Snapshot can be found here.