|Welcome to fall in Newton! Though it doesn’t feel like it as the thermometer hits 80 degrees today.
I had never heard of “24/7 Wall Street,” but I am already impressed with their judgment, as they recently declared Newton the single best city in America to live in. They based this “on a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, educational attainment, and housing affordability.” I don’t know that anyone would generally equate Newton with “housing affordability” but then again, who cares? We all know Newton is #1, that’s why we choose to live here! (There is a wonderful quote in Newton's Comprehensive Plan from Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy: “No place is perfect. We’ve got high taxes, clogged streets… and too many stressed-out parents and kids. But on the whole, I’d rather be in Newton. If you don’t live there, you’re just camping out.”)
Newtonville Village Day & Bullough’s Pond Fair, Sunday September 28
Excellent weather is forecast for Newtonville’s Annual Village Day this Sunday, Sept 28, from noon to5 p.m. on Walnut Street between Washington St and Washington Park. The road will be closed off, and there will be numerous activities and musical acts. Earlier in the day you can check out the Bullough’s Pond Fair from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon, at Dexter Road and Bullough Park, along the banks of beautiful Bullough's Pond. I look forward to seeing you at one or both of these events!
Unanimous vote to expanding legal protections to “T” in LGBT
It was an honor and a privilege to cast one of the unanimous votes to amend Newton’s anti-discrimination ordinances to include protection for people regardless of their "gender identity or expression." In the words of Dr. King, ““The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Speaking of gender identity, I have docketed a change to the city charter to include the term “alderwoman” when referring to female aldermen. This topic has been on my mind since my campaign last year, when so many people asked, “But you’re called ‘alderwoman’ aren’t you?” According to wikipedia, “The title is derived from the Old English title of ealdorman, literally meaning "elder man", and was used by the chief nobles presiding over shires.” I won’t comment on whether “elder man” is an appropriate title for any of my colleagues, but no matter how long I live, it will never apply to me! Another idea that came up in our committee discussion of this topic last week would be to scrap gender in the title completely. New Haven, CT elected officials are now called “alders”, though they still meet in “aldermanic” chambers. City councilor, anyone?
24/7 Wall Street rating aside, as Newton’s real estate values continue to skyrocket, I am interested in any and all creative solutions for providing more affordable housing in our city. One solution may be to loosen restrictions on the creation of accessory apartments. An accessory apartment is, as the name suggests, an apartment created within one’s house. Especially as our population ages, these apartments may offer a way to make it more affordable for seniors to stay in their homes – i.e. “age in place” – by providing some rental income. An accessory apartment is also affordable housing for the renter. This recent article about Portland gives some idea of what can be done.
Again setting that #1 rating aside, it was jarring to find that an armed robbery took place right in Newtonville, during broad daylight. An employee of Second Appearance on Washington Street was threatened with a knife and tied up while the assailants stole cash and jewelry. The suspects have not been caught, though their faces were caught on a security camera. Please contact the police if you have any information.
Ward 2 In the News
A page on my website is dedicated to Ward 2 residents who make the news - at least, the news I happen to see. (Submissions welcome!) I have recently added Rev. and Katy Haywood (a wonderful story about the history of the Myrtle Baptist Church), Laura McTaggart (commentary on Beacon Hill preservationists) and Lauri Meizler (receiving a grant from Sam Adams for her small business). Check it out!
What is going on with Subway??!!
I have been asked many times in the last few months about the Subway location at Walnut and Newtonville Ave, and I had been wondering myself, as it has appeared ready to open for over a year now. I won’t go into the details but there were issues related to the need to upgrade electrical capacity that have since been resolved, and the store is expected to open “within weeks.”
New Fro Yo
A new frozen yogurt store called Yogurt Beach has opened at the corner of Watertown and Edinboro Streets in Newtonville, where Manny’s (and before that Pete’s) used to be. The owners are West Newton residents, and my kids gave it a 2 thumbs up at the grand opening.
I really liked this column by Newton Sustainability Director Rob Garrity in the Tab a few weeks back, noting the mayor’s accomplishments both in environmental sustainability as well as in fiscal sustainability. It’s all about leaving the world a better place for our kids. There is much more to do, but we are off to a good start.
Office Hours Friday Sept 26
As usual, office hours will take place the last Friday of the month at 9 a.m. at the Newton Senior Center, 345 Walnut Street in Newtonville. Hope to see you there!