Category: Events

What’s Up In Newton This Week? COVID-19 Cases continue to rise, Newton Begins Re-Opening Process; Housing Relief Program approved, Schools May Vote to Withdraw from EDCO, City Council Votes Increase in Water and Sewer rates, Budget Review of Fire, Police, and DPW, and more…

COVID-19: According to the Newton Patch: ” Newton has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection in the state, with the 28th highest number of cases as of Thursday. Officials have attributed the high case count to the availability of testing and the city’s congregant living facilities.” The City’s website has us at 716 confirmed cases as of May 21st with 105 deaths May 19th. You can check out Jack Prior’s app to see how Newton and the rest of the US and the World are doing.

Re-opening: With the announcement from Governor Baker regarding the Re-Opening Plan for Massachusetts, the City of Newton is beginning it’s own re-opening. First to re-open are our tennis courts. According to the Parks, Recreation, and Culture link on the City’s website:

Newton Parks, Recreation & Culture is excited to announce that we are able to begin the opening of tennis courts within the city.  We will be opening the courts on a rolling basis as we get them prepared and ready for play.  The tennis courts at our two high schools, Newton South and Newton North, are ready to go for Memorial Day weekend. 

We are able to open these courts during the Governor’s Phase 1 of re-opening with three important stipulations:

  • Games are restricted to players from the same household.  
  • Masks are required to be worn when physical distancing is not possible.  Players must wear masks, for example, when accessing the courts and waiting for court availability … in essence at all times when people are not playing.  
  • We are limiting play to 1 hour with a turnover on the hour when other payers are waiting.  (Newton’s Parks maintenance crews will work to get other courts open over the next few weeks.)  

Please check www.newtonma.gov/parks for updates on the opening of additional courts. 

The City will also begin re-opening the Resource/Recovery Center at Rumford Avenue. According to the DPW website, drop-off recycling at the Resource Recovery Center will be available by appointment beginning on June 2nd.

Effective June 2: Open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Call Customer Service at 617-796-1000 Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00 pm to schedule an appointment. Unfortunately, residents without an appointment will not be able to enter the site.  Summer hours (by appointment only): Tuesday-Friday from 7:00am-3:45pm* Closed on Saturdays until further notice, Sundays and Holidays

Located at 115 Rumford Ave, Auburndale, MA 02466 

COVID-19 Emergency Housing Relief Program: Last week, the City Council voted to approve a proposal to appropriate $2,000,000 of CPA funds to create a COVID-19 Housing Rental Assistance Program. In addition, the City will be allocating $500,000 in CDBG funding from the federal CARES Act to emergency housing needs. The application for this program is due on June 3rd.

City Council approves increase in Water/Sewer Rates: Last week, the City Council voted unanimously to increase our Water and Sewer Rates. The Presentation of the Proposed Rates that were approved can be found here.

Budget Review Continues: The City Council Committees will continue their budget review this week: Public Facilities Committee – (See Agenda) will review the DPW Budget and the Public Safety and Transportation Committee – (See Agenda) will review the Fire and Police Department Budgets.

Mayor’s Community Breakfast: The Mayor’s Community Breakfast will be held virtually this year. On Wednesday, May 27, the 46th Annual Theodore D. Mann Memorial Newton Mayor’s Community Breakfast will be held virtually through Zoom, starting at 8:30am. There are 1,000 “virtual seats” available for this event. Register here. Sign up no later than May 25 to reserve your seat. 

All others are welcome to join in by watching the event on NewTV. A livestream will be available on our Government Channel: Comcast 9 • RCN 13, 614 (HD) • Verizon 33 and online through Facebook Live and our Vimeo Channel.

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

Food Resources for Newton Residents

Food Assistance: On May 6, 2020, the School Department sent the following email regarding Food Assistance for Newton residents regarding food resources. According to the email:

“Many in Newton are struggling to put food on the table right now. If your income has changed as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits. SNAP is a federal entitlement program  and anyone who is eligible will receive benefits. P-EBT provides households with an EBT card containing the dollar value of free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools are closed to help them purchase groceries. We also continue to run our grab-and-go meal distribution at three sites; see below for additional information. 

P-EBT

If your income has recently changed, you are encouraged to apply for Free & Reduced Lunch. If approved, you may become automatically eligible for P-EBT benefits provided directly from the state.

How to apply online: The online application is easy to complete and is the quickest and most efficient way for you to confirm your eligibility and to enroll your student(s).

How to call for assistance: Please leave a message at 617-559-9038 with return phone # and a representative will reach out to assist you in completing an application.

SNAP

SNAP benefits are given each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card which works like a debit card. SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery and convenience stores and some farmers’ markets and co-op food programs. You can give your EBT card to a trusted family member or friend to shop for you. 

Click here for a 10-second screening to see if you might be eligible. 

How to Apply Online: Apply for SNAP benefits today online through DTA Connect.

How to Call for Assistance: If you have questions about your eligibility or how to apply for SNAP benefits, Project Bread has many resources including a confidential Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 where counselors assist callers in 160 languages. It’s open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also reach out to Newton’s Health and Human Services Department at 617-796-1420.

Grab-n-Go Meal Sites 

All Newton residents, regardless of age, may pick up meals at the following three sites. Meals are provided free of charge and include breakfast and lunch items. All sites are open Monday-Friday from 10AM-12PM. 

  • Newton North High 
  • Newton South High
  • NECP (150 Jackson Road)”

What’s Up in Newton this Week? COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths continue to rise, Mayor to present FY2021 Budget to City Council TONIGHT, School Committee to hold public hearing and vote on School Choice, review/discuss Distance Learning Surveys, and receive updates on Equity and other policies TONIGHT, City Council continues to review budgets this week, Public Comment period extended to May 18th on the Draft Open Space and Recreation Plan, and more……

COVID-19: Confirmed cases continue to rise in Newton as the number of cases has risen to 651 as of May 7th and deaths have risen to 86 as of May 5th. Newton, like other cities, reports COVID-19 information on its website. While Newton provides data on age, other cities and towns like Brookline and Cambridge provide data on race and ethnicity and zip code. Wellesley includes the number of cases in long-term facilities. To stay up-to-date on data and statistics on a state and national level, please check out Jack Prior’s COVDI-19 website – specifically his incredible app here.

FY2021 Budget: The Mayor is scheduled to virtually present the FY2021 Budget TONIGHT at the Full City Council Meeting – (probably right after the first call of reports). To view this meeting use this link at the above date and time: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/905404917 Meeting ID: 905 404 917 One tap mobile +13017158592,,905404917# US (Germantown) Land line +1 646 558 8656 US (New York) Meeting ID: 905 404 917 You may also: 1. Watch a live broadcast of the meeting on NewTV’s government channel (Comcast 9, RCN 13, 614(HD), Verizon 33). Sorry – there is no weblink to the Mayor’s Proposed FY2021 Budget but stay tuned….it should be posted soon after the presentation!

School Committee to hold public hearing and vote on School Choice, and hear updates re: Distance Learning Surveys, and Equity and other policies TONIGHT: The School Committee will meet virtually TONIGHT – beginning at 5:45 p.m. with an Executive Session but then will move to open session by 7:00 p.m. The agenda suggests that they will hold and vote on School Choice and discuss the Distance Learning Survey results (Family, Staff, and Student) as well as hear updates on various policies.

Extension of Public Comment Period: The Public Comment Period for the Draft Open Space and Recreation Plan has been extended to May 18th. Send comments to concom@newtonma.gov .

Weekly Construction Schedule: This Week’s Construction Schedule can be found here.

Congratulations to Newton Students

According to the most excellent NewtonSTEM newsletter, congratulations go to our very own Newton students who participated in this year’s Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair. Five Newton students participated and two won awards! The participants were: Charlotte Aslett (Newton Country Day), Emily Addona (Newton Country Day), Nicholas Hu (Newton South), Rohit Paradkar (Newton South) and Elizabeth Lesher (Newton Country Day). To learn more about their projects, go to the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair Program Book here.

What’s Up in Newton this Week? COVID-19 Cases continue to rise; $250,000 request for COVID-19 Emergency Operations and Supplies before Council for approval and new docket item request to accept and expend $100,000 grant from MA-DPH for COVID-19, School Committee poised to vote on Proposed FY2021 Budget, and more….

COVID-19 Update: So far, Newton has seen an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases with a reported 157 cases up from 59 reported last week and 3 reported deaths. As we mourn those that we have lost and pray for quick recoveries for those who have been infected, we do have evidence that the social/physical distancing that has been imposed is working. Newton resident, Jack Prior, has been analyzing the data and the impact on our protective social and physical distancing orders appears to be helping to flatten the curve. So please, stay-at-home, wear a cloth or home-made mask or face covering when going outside for only the most necessary of errands, (Please donate medical-grade N95s, surgical masks, and other PPE equipment to our first responders, healthcare and frontline workers), and avoid congregating with anyone outside your immediate household for at a minimum, the next few weeks. We can get through this, help each other, our family, friends, and neighbors, and save lives if we all heed this advice. City of Newton COVID-19 updates can be found here, Commonwealth of Massachusetts updates can be found here, and CDC updates can be found here.

$250,000 set aside for COVID-19 to be voted on TONIGHT. A request to transfer $250,000 from Free Cash to fund an emergency fund for operations and supplies will be before the Full Council for approval tonight. In addition, a request to accept and expend a Massachusetts Department of Health grant of $100,000 ” for the purpose of additional compensation in the form of overtime, additional personnel resources and the purchase of emergency supplies necessary to help the City of Newton prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic” is on the new docket.

$244,645,343 Budget proposal before the School Committee TONIGHT. The FY2021 Superintendent’s Proposed Budget, which represents an $8.3 million increase (3.5%) over last year’s budget will be before the School Committee TONIGHT for a VOTE. The meeting, as all City meetings, will be virtual. Information on how to join the meeting can be found on the School Committee’s agenda here.

Speaking of Budgets…City Council Budget Calendar can be found here. Usually, the Mayor presents the City’s Proposed Budget to the City Council at its Full City Council meeting the day after Patriot’s Day. Stay tuned.

Weekly Road Construction continues: This week’s Road Construction schedule can be found here.

What’s Up in Newton this Week? – Schools closed until May 4th per Governor Baker’s order, COVID-19 cases up in Newton this week, School Committee to hold Public Hearing on Superintendent’s proposed FY2021 Budget and more….

Schools Closed until May 4th: Per Governor Baker’s Order on March 16th, schools throughout the Commonwealth, as well as all non-emergency childcare programs, are closed until May 4th. The Newton Public School Has a list of resources and information here.

COVID-19 Update: Last week, I reported that the number of confirmed cases in Newton was 14 as of March 20th. As of last night, Sunday, March 29th, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 59. This is not unexpected as the amount of testing is finally beginning to increase but still very sad. City information about COVID-19 and resources can be found here.

School Committee to hold Virtual FY2021 Budget Hearing TONIGHT: Yes – it’s that time of year for Budget Review. TONIGHT, at 7:00 p.m. the School Committee will hold a virtual public hearing on the Superintendent’s FY2021 Budget. See post below on how to access the meeting.

This Week’s Construction Schedule: This week’s road construction schedule can be found here.

Food for Families

Free bags of non-perishable food will be available at the following new locations:

  • Fire Station 2: 1750 Commonwealth Ave., Auburndale
  • Fire Station 4: 195 Crafts St., Nonantum
  • Fire Station 7: 144 Elliot St., Newton
  • Fire Station 10: 755 Dedham St. Newton
  • American Legion Nonantum Post 440: 295 California St., Newton

These bags are being made available for families experiencing hardship to have extra food for the children in their homes. Please remember to maintain proper physical distancing when picking up a bag. Bags will be located in PODS Containers located at each site.

The City is requesting a limit of 2 bags per family to allow for more families to access bags. Additional information on other COVID-19 related resources can be found here.

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. “

https://www.mma.org/gov-signs-order-suspending-parts-of-open-meeting-law-to-enable-local-decision-making-during-covid-19-emergency/

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.

Important Info regarding COVID-19

Folks, this is serious. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared novel COVID-19 – Coronavirus a pandemic. The President of the United States declared a National Emergency. The Governor ordered school closings throughout the state for the next 3 weeks, banned public gatherings of more than 25 people, and prohibited dine-in at restaurants and bars – allowing only take-out and delivery services.

A local physician drafted a letter and a Do’s and Don’ts Document to send to our civic leaders urging more definitive action now to protect the health of our community.  With the physician’s permission, I am publishing here and her collaborator’s work. Please, please, please, heed their advice.

See Text of Letter to the Mayor here and Do’s and Don’t’s here.

Here are some additional links to stay up-to-date on the Coronavirus:

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

Mass.gov: https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

City of Newton: http://www.newtonma.gov/gov/health_n_human_services/public/covid_19.asp