|I hope you're having a great summer! Here is a warm-weather update of happenings in Newtonville and beyond.
The Land Use Committee of the Board of Aldermen discussed the proposed Austin Street project for the first time on July 21st. A schedule of upcoming meetings can be found in this memo issued by Land Use Chair Marc Laredo.
Newtonville Area Council looking for candidates
The Newtonville Area Council is looking for candidates in this fall’s election. To be eligible you must be a registered voter in the Newtonville Area Council district (map and lists of streets) Nomination papers can be picked up at Room 103 in City Hall, and are due August 12, 2015. Elections take place on Newtonville Village Day, Sunday September 27, with early voting available Sept. 21 through Sept. 25 at City Hall.
Rubble pile along Washington St.
Several people have reached out about the unsightly construction staging area along Washington St. on the border between Newtonville and West Newton. The interim Public Works Commissioner has assured the Wards 2 and 3 Aldermen that it will be gone by mid-October and the area will not be used as a truck and dirt storage area again.
Gas Leaks Resolution
On July 15 two Committees of the Board of Aldermen (Public Facilities, Programs and Services) voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to the State Legislature in support of House Bill 2870, “an Act relative to protecting consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked and unaccounted for gas.” This bill would prohibit utilities from their current practice of charging consumers for leaking natural gas. Leaking natural gas is a safety hazard, kills trees, costs consumers money, and contributes to global warming (methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide). The resolution goes to the full Board for a vote on August 10th.
There was also a discussion of what Newton is already doing to address to existing gas leaks. I was shocked to learn that the Newton Fire Department learns of 3-4 “Grade 1” (most urgent) leaks each week (and oversees National Grid repairing them). During the discussion it became clear that no one in City Hall currently “owns” the problem of addressing Grade 2 and 3 leaks, including ensuring leaks are fixed when a road is opened up; state legislation passed in 2014 requires that Grade 2 leaks be repaired within twelve months (see p. 7). Executive Department staff promised to address this responsibility question immediately.
Nuclear Power Resolution
Another resolution taken up by the Programs and Services Committee passed unanimously: Whether the following non-binding question shall be placed on the November 3, 2015 municipal ballot: “Shall Governor Charles Baker instruct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to revoke the operating license of the 42-year old Pilgrim Nuclear Station, 38 miles from Newton in Plymouth, MA, because the safety of the public cannot be assured” See p. 36 for the justification for this question. My aunt and uncle live in Wellfleet and it is from them that I learned that in the event of a nuclear accident at Pilgrim, the Sagamore Bridge is to be closed. Sobering thought for the 200K+ residents of Cape Cod.
Newton Tab Editor Becomes Energy Efficiency Guinea Pig
In a recent column, Newton Tab editor Andy Levin wrote of his family’s experience switching to a wood pellet stove as a way to save money. He has committed to joining the Energy Smart Newton program and finding what additional steps he can take to reduce energy usage. Visit http://www.masssave.com/ for more details. (Thanks to a MassSave rebate, my home was warmed by a super efficient mini-split heat pump last winter, cutting our heating oil bill significantly. And last month I shared the news of my new all-electric Leaf, which is over 50% cheaper to fuel up and I bought with a $2500 rebate from the State and $7500 tax credit from the federal government.)
“Classic Groove” at the Newton Senior Center July 29th
City Hall is sponsoring a concert on the front lawn of the Newton Senior Center, as part of the Dancing in the Parks series sponsored by The Village Bank. Starting at 6:30 PM, “Classic Groove” brings the sounds of R&B and Top 40 Smooth Jazz and Latin beats. Bring your chair, though you may not spend much time sitting!
Office Hours Friday
My office hours are the last Friday of the month at the Newton Senior Center, 345 Walnut Street in Newtonville, 9-10am. I'll be there this coming Friday, July 31. Hope to see you there!