Category: Events

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 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.

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:


City of Newton:

What’s Up in Newton this Week – COVID-19 Makes it to Newton, Request to submit Countryside and Franklin SOPs to MSBA on Finance Agenda, Land Use to take up $1.1 million CPA request by Newton Housing Authority to acquire CAN-DO properties and parking waiver for 478 parking stalls in Newton Centre and request for extension of time to exercise Special Permit for Cypress Tree Management (retail marijuana sales and RMD Dispensary), continued discussion and review of West Newton Armory and more….

COVID-19 Virus Makes it to Newton: A Newton parent has been diagnosed “presumptive positive” for Coronavirus. The Superintendent informed NPS parents on Saturday in this letter. Official City information on COVID-19 can be found here.

Finance Committee to take up Submission for Countryside and Franklin Elementary Schools for MSBA Funding: The Finance Committee will discuss and vote on a request to submit Statements of Interest to the Mass School Building Authority (“MSBA”) for funding for replacement, renovation or addition of Countryside Elementary School as the highest priority and Franklin Elementary School as the second highest priority schools. See Finance Committee agenda here.

Busy Land Use Agenda this week: A request for $1,105,000 of Community Preservation Act funds to be used to fund the acquisition of CAN-DO affordable housing portfolio, a request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval for a restaurant with more than 50 seats and to waive 478 parking spaces in Newton Centre, and a request for an extension of time to exercise an approved special permit/site plan approval for a retail and medical marijuana dispensary are all on the Land Use agenda this week.

West Newton Armory continues to be reviewed: The West Newton Armory Joint Advisory Planning Group will meet this week to further review potential of reuse of the Armory building. The agenda can be found here.

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

What’s Up in Newton this Week? A bunch of items postponed from the last City Council meeting on TONIGHT’s Docket, New Docket includes a request to require background checks on dog walkers, Voting on March 3rd – Presidential Primary and Local Referendum on Northland, Request to limit or prohibit fossil fuel infrastructure and more…..

Full City Council to meet TONIGHT and vote on several items postponed from its last meeting – Two requests for free standing signs (40 Austin Street and 84 Needham Street), two requests for extension of time to exercise a special permit (20-22 Circuit Avenue and 105 Temple Street) and a request to amend the funding source for $740,000 to fund legal and conservation restriction expenses for Webster Woods were postponed from the last Council meeting. See Reports Docket here.

Council to look at elimination of parking minimums and background checks on dog walkers: The New Docket includes an item in Zoning and Planning Committee to amend the Zoning Ordinance to eliminate mandated parking minimums and an item to review and amend the off-leash dog ordinance to include requiring background checks on dog walkers. See New Docket here.

Vote on Tuesday, March 3rd! If you haven’t already voted or didn’t receive numerous mailings, emails, etc, about an upcoming election – here you go – VOTE on Tuesday, March 3rd and be sure to ask for the second ballot – the local referendum on Northland! Election info can be found here. NOTE: New Polling location for Ward 2 Precinct 1.

SOI on Countryside and Franklin Elementary Schools and potential limitation or prohibition on fossil fuel infrastructure – The Public Facilities Committee will discuss and vote on a request to submit a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts State Building Authority for funding to pursue renovation/addition at both the Countryside and Franklin Elementary Schools. They will will also consider an item limiting and possibly prohibiting fossil fuel infrastructure for new construction and substantial renovation projects. See Public Facilities Committee Agenda here.

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

NewCAL Community Meeting – Thursday, February 27th, 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Center

The next community meeting on the NewCAL project has been scheduled for Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Center!

Sticky note comments received at forums, as well as at the Senior Center, can be viewed here:

The City is still gathering and considering thoughts, comments, or questions with regard to site selection, so you can send them directly to the project team here or to:

What’s Up in Newton This Week: Public Safety and Transportation holding Public Comment Session on Transportation Priorities; Appointment of New Parks and Recreation and Culture Commissioner – Nicole Banks and Request to Rename the Department of Parks and Recreation to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture and more…..

Seeking Public Comments on Transportation Planning: The Public Safety and Transportation Committee will hold a Public Comment session on Priorities for transportation planning on Wednesday, February 19th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. See agenda.

Welcoming new Parks and Rec and Culture Commissioner: The City Council’s New Docket contains the appointment of the new Parks and Recreation and Culture Commissioner, Nicole Banks. See Docket here. The appointment will go before the Programs and Services Committee at their next scheduled meeting on February 26th. This week’s Programs and Services Committee has been cancelled. See Cancellation Notice here.

More Parks and Rec stuff….The City Council’s Docket also contains a request to rename the Department of Parks and Recreation to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture – (although that’s the way it already is listed on the City’s website!). See Docket here.

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

What’s Up in Newton this Week – School Committee to approve SOI for Countryside and Franklin Schools; Riverside Proposal- Housing and Fiscal Impacts to be discussed; Joint Public Hearing on Newton Housing Authority Acquisition of CAN-DO Housing Portfolio; Open Space and Recreation Plan Survey, MBTA site visit (Newtonville Commuter Rail Station) and more….

Countryside and Franklin to be submitted as priorites to MSBA: The School Committee will meet TONIGHT and vote to approve a Statement of Intent regarding the need for new and improved school building facilities for Countryside and Franklin Schools. The proposed SOI can be found here.

Riverside is back on the agenda: This week’s Land Use Committee will review the Housing and Fiscal Impacts of the proposed development. The Land Use Committee will discuss on Tuesday, February 11th, in the Council Chambers (see agenda)

Joint Public Hearing on Newton Housing Authority’s acquisition of CAN-DO’s housing portfolio: There will be a Joint Public Hearing with the Community Preservation Committee and the Planning and Development Board regarding a planned acquisition by the Newton Housing Authority of the non-profit affordable housing development organization, CAN-DO’s, housing portfolio which consists of “eight 2- family dwellings located at 10-12 Cambria Rd., 11-13 Cambria Rd., 18-20 Cambria Rd, 54 Taft Ave., 54 Eddy St., 20-22 Falmouth Rd., 163 Jackson Rd., and 2148-2150 Commonwealth Ave. ; three 3-family dwellings located at 236 Auburn St., 61 Pearl St., and 14 Nonantum Pl.; a five unit apartment building located at 90 Christina St.; and a group home with six SROs located at 228 Webster Street”. The Newton Housing Authority is requesting $$1,105,000 CPA Funds and $1,200,000 of Community Block Grant Funds. The Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 11th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Newton Senior Center,345 Walnut Street. Information on this proposal can be found here.

Opportunity for input on the City’s Open Space Plan: The Open Space and Recreation Plan provides an inventory of all existing areas of recreational use and open space (City owned and privately owned) and a list of goals and priorities for municipal actions regarding land acquisitions (like prioritizing the acquisition of Webster Woods), recreational facility and open space improvements, and accessibility improvements. Each OSRP are reviewed and approved by the Department of Conservation Services and is valid for 7 years once approved.

The online community survey can be found here.

MBTA Seeks Community Input: According to the Newton Patch, the MBTA will be conducting community outreach with public workshops and site visits beginning on Thursday, February 13th at 1:00 p.m. According to the Patch: ” The MBTA said any Newton seniors or persons with disabilities who participates in the sessions will get an Amazon gift card. The first site visit begins at 1 p.m. at the Newtonville Commuter Rail Station on Feb. 13. The day after, there’s a meeting at the Newton Free Library at 10 a.m.”

This Week’s Road Construction Schedule: Go here for this week’s road construction schedule.

What’s Up in Newton this Week? ZAP to consider suspending local landmarking, Enrollment Planning – TONIGHT, New Buffer Zones and Countryside and Franklin move up in Priority list at School Committee Meeting TONIGHT, Riverside is back – public hearing on Tuesday and more…..

Temporary Suspension of Local Landmarking? Last week, I reported that there were 7 nominations for local landmarking. On Monday, the Zoning and Planning Committee will be discussing and possibly voting on proposed amendment that would temporarily suspend local landmarking by the Historial Commission and nominations made by the City Council. The Zoning and Planning Committee agenda can be found here.

Riverside is back. Public Hearing is scheduled for this Tuesday. Two weeks ago, I reported that the Petitioner’s attorney was to provide an update to the Land Use Committee regarding the updated proposal – one that was consistent with the zoning amendment that was approved. On Tuesday, the public hearing will begin on the Riverside project. The Land Use Committee agenda can be found here along with a Planning Department memo here.

Latest Enrollment Planning, New Buffer Zones, and Countryside and Franklin move up the list as next highest priorities....The School Committee will meet on TONIGHT to discuss the latest enrollment planning and class size report, new buffer zones…(spoiler: existing Angier buffer zones to remain to manage Angier’s Kindergarten enrollment; reinstatement of former Mason Rice/Zervas buffer zone with a few minor changes; addition of a buffer zone with Cabot to maintain 13 classrooms at Pierce, addition of a buffer zone with Day to assign new students to Bigelow) and Countryside and Franklin to move up the priority list. The Statement of Interest (“SOI”) portion for Countryside – See SOI Memo – includes a shout-out to Northland:

” A properly reconstructed Countryside School is the next highest priority on Newton’s long-range plan due to facility condition issues, the facility’s failure to support the educational program and the extensive reliance upon inferior quality short-term annex construction as well as modular classrooms. Further, the district has had recent periods of enrollment crowding (enrollment above 500 students) at the facility which required the drastic action of relocating of an entire kindergarten class to different schools. The district also recognizes that there is considerable future residential development in the planning stages and there are no longer any intermediate actions, such as the installation of modular building, available on the school’s very constrained and wet site. The school is adjacent to the Needham Street Area for which the\ City has developed a “Vision Plan.” That plan includes adding diverse residential options including multi-unit housing including affordable units. A mixed use project in the Countryside district by Northland Investment Corporation has been granted a special permit by the City and could add 800 residential units with a potential to generate approximately 165 additional public school age students. As a result, enrollment at Countryside could come close to its current capacity. It should be noted that the project as granted by special permit, will be decided in a March 2020 local referendum vote.”

History of Parks and Recreation in Newton: Join retired BC Professor, Michael Clarke, for a discussion that will trace the history of parks, playgrounds, and organized sports movements in the 19th and early 20th century. More information can be found here.

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Newton Housing Authority. Newton Housing Authority is hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 1st at the American Legion Post 440 beginning at 1:00 p.m – 5:00 p.m. More information can be found here.

Evening of Magical Music at Gregorian Rugs. Enjoy chamber music by New Phil and refreshments at Gregorian Rugs, 2284 Washington Street. Music will includes works by Bach, Stravinsky and Mozart. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.

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

What’s Up In Newton This Week – MLK Jr. Celebration- “Know Your Neighbor” TODAY; Northland Referendum Election Date to be set on Tuesday; 478 Parking Space Waiver in Newton Center to be voted on Tuesday; Chapter 40B Dunstan East proposal by Mark Development before Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday and more……

MLK Jr. Celebration: The MLK Jr. 2020 Annual Celebratiion will take place this morning, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 848 Beacon Street, Newton Centre. This year’s theme is “Know Your Neighbor”. There will be a community chorus performance and a Community Coffee: An Engagement and Activism Fair. More details about this event can be found here.

Northland Referendum Date to be set on Tuesday evening: At the last full Council Meeting, five City Councilors (Norton, Ciccone, Kalis, Markiewicz, and Malakie) chartered the vote to set the date of the special election for the Northland Referendum. The four-person (five – in this case) charter effectively halted the Council from setting the date of the referendum until the next regularly scheduled Full Council meeting (preventing the calling of a special meeting) – which will be on Tuesday. Here are some memos regarding the special election that I posted last week, but may still be of interest, this week:

  • Planning Department memo here;
  • City Clerk memo here;
  • Council President memo here.

478 Parking Space Waiver Request: Yes, 478 otherwise required parking space may be waived if the City Council votes to accept the recommendation from the Land Use Committee for a request made by Union Realty Trust in conjunction with a request to allow a restaurant with more than 50 seats. The properties seeking the request are not contiguous, and comprise of 93-105 Union Street, 1280 Centre Street, 47-61 Langley Road, 43-63 Union Street, and 790-794 Beacon Street. Read the report to understand why the request is being made and the reasoning behind the Planning Department and Land Use Committee’s support of this request.

Dunstan East – Chapter 40B proposal for West Newton before ZBA on Wednesday: The long-awaited public hearing on the Dunstan East – Chapter 40B proposal for West Newton will be held on Wednesday, January 22nd. The meeting will begin at 6:30 but the Public Hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. As you may recall, the proposal is for 244 residential units – with 61 of those units to be “affordable”, and some retail space and maintaining and existing office building. The project will be located in West Newton – 1149, 1151, 1169, 1171-1173, 1179 and 1185 Washington Street, 12, 18, 24 and 25 Kempton Place, and 32 and 34 Dunstan Street.

What to do with the West Newton Armory? A Public Hearing will be held by the Real Property/Reuse Committee regarding potential uses for the West Newton Armory located at 1135 Washington Street. The Armory was one of the options folks got to weigh in on at the recent NewCAL meeting that was held last Thursday evening. Other sites that were looked at include: Existing Senior Center, Former Aquinas Junior College, the Ed Center,West Suburban YMCA, the Police Headquarters, and the Newton Center Triangle Parking Lot.

Newton Historical Commission has historic number of landmark requests (in one meeting), for West Newton National Register properties (properties that have already been acknowledged for their historic importance): This week’s Newton Historical Commission will review 7 requests for local landmarking – 1253 Washington Street, NR – Local Landmark request, 1173 Washington Street, NR – Local Landmark, 978 Watertown Street, NR – Local Landmark request, 989-1003 Watertown Street, NR– Local Landmark request, 1239-1247 Washington Street, NR – Local Landmark request, 1235 Washington Street, NR – Local Landmark request, and 1 Chestnut Street, NR – Local Landmark request. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 23rd at 7:00 p.m. in Room 205.

A Cappella at Gregorian Rugs: The Newtones, the Newton South High School’s a cappella group will perform a “Winter Warmer”, this Friday night, January 24th at 7:00 p.m. at Gregorian Rugs, 2284 Washington Street, in Newton Lower Falls. The show will also feature the Northern Lights from Newton North, Noteafy from Brookline High and improv from the Children of the CandyCorn from Newton South. Tickets are $10 and additional details can be found here.

Weekly Road Construction Schedule: The weekly road construction schedule can be found here.