Waban Area Council
MEETING AGENDA – February 2023
Isabelle Albeck, Dinah Bodkin, Bill Bracken, Rena Getz, Sallee Lipshutz, Drake McCabe,
Megan Meirav, Chris Pitts, Sumukh Tendulkar
Ex-Officio City Councilor: Bill Humphrey
When: Thursday, February 9, 2023, 7:30 pm
Where: Virtual Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 868 4752 0630
I. Opening (5’)
A. Confirmation of quorum
B. Issues from the Community
II. Substantive Topics (45’)
A. Strong Block - Waban Hall Landmarking
B. Wellesley Office Park Update
C. WAC Fundraising
III. Zoning Updates (30’)
A. Recap of WAC presentation to ZAP (Monday, Jan. 23rd)
B. Overview discussion
IV. Administrative Items (10’)
A. Conflict of Interest Training
B. Review & approval of Meeting Minutes
C. Treasurer’s Report
D. End-of-year Reports
V. New Business (5’)
Please note: Agenda order and discussion length is at the President’s discretion.
Waban Area Council February Meeting Minutes
February 9th, 2023 7:30pm, Zoom
Waban Area Council
Rena Getz, Bill Bracken, Isabelle Albeck, Sallee Lipshutz, Dinah Bodkin, Christopher Pitts
Bill Humphrey, Pam Wright, Julia Malakie
Marc Hershman, Tom Elkind, Aretha Davis, Carolyn Gabbay, Angelo Volandes, Jeremy Freudberg, Lisa Monahan, Matthew Weiner, A Gates
Issues from the community
No issues brought up.
Discussion of landmarking Buildings in Waban
Rena Getz gave a presentation on the status of landmarking the Strong Block and Waban Hall. Rena explained that the Strong block is automatically eligible for nomination because it is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Councilor Humphrey explained that the Strong Block topic is set to appear at the March 23rd Newton Historic Commission meeting and Waban Hall on the April 27th meeting.
Rena urged people to attend the meeting and express support for the landmarking.
Wellesley Office Park Update
Rena Getz gave a presentation on a proposed amendment to the 40R development agreement in the office park. The developer is requesting to convert permitted hotel units to additional residential housing units. The change would bring the permitted dwelling units to a total of 850 units, or 20 units per acre, if that is greater. Language involving hotels would be removed from the agreement.
The presentation included slides from the Wellesley Park initial conceptual master plan. The amendment would have to be approved by town meeting and then approved by the select board. The 25% affordable units stipulation will remain.
Chris Pitts brought up that there is only one road with access in and out of the office park.
Angelo Valances shared concerns with traffic on route 9 in that area and a lack of adherence to stop signs.
Sallee suggested that we get more people from the city council involved in this issue as well as the mayor.
A discussion on council finances ensued. Rena suggested we reach out to other area councils for ideas.
Sallee noted that the original fundraiser raised about $3,0000 and has lasted the council about 8 years.
Discussion turned to the need for more clarity around fundraising and if the area council would be allowed to accept donations or add a donation button to the website.
Rena went over the zoning survey questions and then Chris Pitts shared the results. 333 people responded to the survey and about 600 people opened the email.
Tom Elkind shared that he disagreed with the form of one of the questions and thought the question was confusing because it was not clear if it was asking people if they support the zoning changes itself or the zoning of particular parcels.
Some more discussion occurred about the survey results, including around clarity of questions, and usefulness of the results.
Rena shared the most recent timeline for zoning changes and noted that we may get the new zoning maps in March or April.
Zoning Visuals Presentation
Marc Hershman gave a presentation that included visual aids he created to represent what places around Newton might look like with the new zoning changes. The visuals included the Strong Block in Waban but also other Village centers in the city.
Councilor Humphrey urged everyone to take the presentation with a grain of salt. Lisa Monahan posted a comment linking a document that she says points out inaccuracies in the presentation.
Rena Getz spoke about the need for more visualization around zoning.
A discussion ensued about housing needs, and housing density, and differing opinions as it relates to village centers.
Sallee suggested that the city provide better visualizations so that the public can better decide what can be built. Pam Wright said next Monday the city should release more visualizations.
Rena Getz shared information on the city’s conflict of interest training program. The December meeting minutes were approved. Rena Getz shared the council’s statement of revenues, expenditures, and changes in fund balances for the last year. A discussion ensued about council finances and the need for more fundraising.
Slide Decks presented at the meeting:
Strong Block. Waban Hall Landmarking Considerations - February 9, 2023 - link.