What’s Up for this Week?

Visioning for Riverside – paid for by the Developer? Yes – the Council will vote on a request from the Mayor to accept and expend funds (from the Developer) to pay for that Visioning Process residents have been asking for.

Northland and Transportation? Land Use will take up the Northland Special Permit/Site Plan Approval and Change of Zone request with a  focus on the traffic and transportation aspects of the proposed project. This caught my eye:  “As detailed in the petitioner’s traffic studies and BETA’s peer review, the proposed development would impact movements to varying degrees at a number of intersections along the Needham Street corridor and other areas in the vicinity during the Weekday AM peak hours, the Weekday PM peak hours and/or the Saturday Midday peak hour; project-generated traffic will also impact intersections during the Weekday Midday peak hour. In some cases, the Level of Service (LOS) at given intersections will degrade (e.g., from LOS C to LOD D or LOS E to LOS F); in other cases, intersections that already function at LOS F will degrade further, with delays increasing anywhere from 10 to 126 seconds. Additional detail is provided in the peer review and a summary can be found in the Executive Summary.” See Plannning Memo.

The petitioner is looking at addressing this with a number of Transportation Demand Strategies – most notably with a shuttle system.

18 Municipal and School Properties up for lease? Yes – the City Council will take up a request to lease up to 18 city-owned properties for solar installations. Some of the initial controversial sites have either been removed from consideration – most notably Countryside, Bigelow, and the parking along Albemarle Road. The Cove (Auburndale), Brown Middle School, and Library projects will have fewer trees removed and apparently some existing trees moved.

On the School Side….

MSBA Funding requests?  The Superintendent is requesting a vote from the City Council to submit funding requests to the MSBA to repair the roof and boiler at Memorial Spaulding and the the roof at Underwood.

It’s all Elementary, my dear Watson.…well at least when it comes to the Elementary Math at NPS. The School Department adopted a new math program in the Spring of 2017. An update on the program can be found here.

Equity Spending by PTOs – Because economic disparity can lead to inequality in terms of educational experiences and opportunities, the School Department together with the School Committee established an Equity Committee consisting of PTO reps, the Superintendent and members of the School Committee to review guidelines and ensure that PTO spending for resources including technology, programming (including enrichment activities and field trips) and staffing is equitable from each school. The School Committee approved changes to the Guidelines which will go into effect on July 1, 2019. An update on the Working Group’s activities and an FY2018 PTO Spending Data Spreadsheet can be found here.

 

Announcements – Week of January 13th

Holiday Tree Pickup Continues through January 18th.  According to the City’s website:

“2019 Christmas tree collection will begin January 7 and run through January 18, 2019.

Each year, the City of Newton collects Christmas trees for recycling during the first two weeks of January. Collection occurs on your regular trash collection day. Place your un-decorated Christmas tree out to the curb by 7am on your collection day during this two week window. All decorations and lights must be removed and trees cannot be in a plastic bag.

While we highly encourage residents to get their tree out during the first two weeks of January, we understand that time frame does not work for everyone. If you missed the Christmas tree pickup, please request a pickup request using 311 or by calling Customer Service. Alternatively, residents can wait until April and prepare the tree according to yard waste guidelines. “

Want to see a great a capella performance?  Next Friday January 18th at 7:00 pm, Gregorian Rugs in Newton Lower Falls will be the venue for the Winter Warmer! Featuring Newtones, the lead group from Newton South and also Newton North’s Forte, Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s Pitches and Do’s and Dover-Sherborn’s Al Coda. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.  For more info, go to:  https://www.facebook.com/events/337517210168158/

Newton celebrates and honors Martin Luther King, Jr. :  Monday, January 21st, 9:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Newton, 848 Beacon Street. More event info can be found here.

Zoning Redesign and a Proposed New Zoning Ordinance

Back in October of 2018 (seems so long ago), the City’s Planning Department released the Pattern Book, the First Draft of the City’s Zoning Ordinance and the City’s First Draft of the City’s Zoning Map. Since then, the Planning Department has presented to the City Council (see Memo) and has been working with the City’s Councilors (presumably the ones from each of the Wards), scheduling meetings with each Ward (see below for Ward meeting schedule) to gather community input.

Here’s a list of the meetings – (some have happened already and there is no time listed so check with your Ward Councilors!):

Ward 1:  2/7/19 – Ciociaro Club – 144 Bridge Street –  Zoning Map

Ward 2:  2/28/19 – Newton Senior Center – 345 Walnut Street –  Zoning Map

Ward 3:  1/24/19 – Second Church – Parish Hall – 60 Highland Street – Zoning MapPoster

Ward 4:  3/7/19 – Lower Falls Community Center – Gymnasium – 545 Grove Street – Zoning Map

Ward 5:  11/29/18 – Angier Elementary School – 1697 Beacon Street – Zoning Map; Poster

Ward 6:  1/10/19 – Mason Rice Elementary School – 149 Pleasant Street – Zoning Map; Poster

Ward 7:  12/12/18 – Church of the Redeemer – 379 Hammond Street – Zoning Map; Poster

Ward 8:  2/13/19 – Countryside Elementary School – Cafetorium – 191 Dedham Street – Zoning Map

Newton Power Choice is here!

The City of Newton is launching it’s municipal electricity aggregation program – Newton Power Choice to residents and businesses – (YAY!  Thank you Emily Norton for your leadership, bringing this to Newton and Mayor Fuller for executing it!). A letter was mailed late last week notifying electricity customers that this new program (under contract with Direct Energy) will supply the City with electricity that includes 60% from renewable sources as the Standard Offering.  Currently, Eversource provides electricity from the minimum (Basic) renewable energy sources – 14% for 2019.

If you received the letter and do nothing – you will be AUTOMATICALLY ENROLLED in the Newton Power Choice Program beginning in March 2019.

If you received the letter and decide to OPT-OUT – Meaning you are not interested in participating, your OPT-OUT Request must be postmarked by FEBRUARY 12, 2019 to avoid automatic enrollment into the program.

If you OPT-OUT, you will remain on Eversource’s Basic Service. Please note:  You can OPT-OUT Anytime with no fee or penalty but must contact Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065 or OPT-OUT online at:  newtonpowerchoice.com. 

If you, like me, would like to take it to the next level and OPT-UP -with 100% renewable electricity, you must call Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065.

Two other important things to note:

Solar Metering:  If you have solar panels you will still receive net metering credit but they will be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service price, not the Newton Power Choice Program price.

Already with an Electricity Supplier? – The City’s website suggests that you will not automatically be enrolled if you already have an existing contract with an electricity supplier. However, the letter states the following:  “…you should not have received this letter. However, if you did receive this letter and you already have an electricity supply contract that you wish to retain, you must OPT-OUT of this program.  If you do not opt-out, your current electricity supply contract may be cancelled, and you may be charged an early termination fee by your existing electricity supplier.”

—————I recommend contacting customer support at service@newtonpowerchoice.com or call 1-833-272-9592 for more clarification.

Public Information Sessions will be held. See below:

January 16, 6 PM, Mayor’s Office –  1000 Commonwealth Ave, Newton
January 23, 2 PM, Newton Senior Center, 345 Walnut St, Newton
January 27, 11 AM, St Ignatius Parish, 28 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill
January 30, 7 PM, Newton Public Library, 330 Homer St, Newton
January 31, 6 PM, Warren House, 1600 Washington Street, Newton
February 7, 6 PM, Houghton Village, 37 Hamlet Street, Newton

What’s Up for this Week?

Check out the Land Use Committee agenda. A number of smaller, scaled development projects seeking special permits – (20 units on California Street, 6 units on Cherry Street and 9 units on Herrick Road).  More banks?  Request to amend a special permit on Needham Street to allow bank use.

Recreational Pot Shop on Beacon Street? – Check out the Development Review Team Meetings for this week.

$100K in earmarked Legislative funding for Senior Center feasibility study – Programs and Services Committee and Public Facilities Committee.

$1.3M of Free Cash to be used to continue Feasibility Study/Schematic Design for Lincoln-Eliot/Newton Early Childhood Program

Announcements

Holiday Tree Pickup begins today, January 7th and will continue through January 18th.

Public Hearing – The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency will hold a public hearing on Monday, January 7th at 11:00 a.m. at its offices located at 99 High Street, Boston, MA to consider a proposal from Cradles to Crayons, Inc. for issuance of qualified 501(c)(3) bonds in an aggregate amount not to exceed $4,400,000 to finance and refinance a portion of the costs to purchase the land, together with the buildings and other improvements thereon, and appurtenances at 281 Newtonville Avenue.

The Newtonville Area Council is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, January 8th at 6:30 p.m. in the Druker Auditorium at the Newton Free Library. The Area Council intends to:

  • Discuss the results re: densification, housing, transportation, and so on
  • Discuss how the new zoning proposals align with the survey results
  • Discuss where we go from here

Please see flyer for more information.

Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce New Year’s Bash: Join Chamber members as they celebrate the New Year and welcome the arrival of UMASS Amherst to the N-Squared Innovation District On Wednesday, January 9th from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Shaw Hall on the new UMASS Amherst Mount IDA Campus, 777 Dedham Street.

Fourth Annual Police Appreciation Day:  In conjunction with National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, the Sons of the American Legion, Newton Squadron 440, invite the public to recognize and support the fine men and women of the Newton Police Department on Wednesday, January 9th from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Post 440, 295 California Street. Free food, cash bar and entertainment.

 

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your families a very happy, safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!!

Mayor’s Open House and Food Drive:  Help Sort Food at the Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Open House on December 31st from 10 a.m. – noon. More information can be found here.

Trash Collection for the week of December 31st and Holiday Tree Collection information can be found here.

Announcements

Community Meeting on Phase 3 Solar Projects on City-owned properties – Tuesday, December 18th – 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the Druker Auditorium, Newton Free Library. This meeting will focus only on the proposed solar project for the Library Parking Lot.

Announcements – Week of December 9th

  • Yard Waste Collection has been extended through December 21st.  Residents can continue to place yard waste on the curb for pickup on their regular collection day.  More information can be found here.
  • Breakfast Food Drive – Food Pantries are in need of breakfast food items. Donations can be made from December 3rd – December 27th. Information on drop-off locations can be found here.
  • Phase 3 Solar Projects on City Property – Community Meetings:
    • December 11, 2018 (Tuesday), 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., City Hall in the War Memorial
      Auditorium, all 20 sites will be presented
    • December 12, 2018 (Wednesday), 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., City Hall in the War Memorial Auditorium, all 20 sites will be presented
    • December 18, 2018 (Tuesday), 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., Newton Free Library, Druker
      Auditorium, this meeting will focus only on the Library Solar Parking Canopy

Reminder: Newton Power Choice Survey – (Looks like it’s still up!)

Despite survey work that had been conducted by Green Newton volunteers earlier this year, the City is attempting to collect data from residents on how much more we are willing to pay for cleaner/greener electricity.  The survey, which requires you to enter your email address but not necessarily your home address to verify residency, can be found here.

An update on the Newton Power Choice Program can be found in the most recent Public Facilities Committee Report here.