A. Confirmation of quorum
B. Issues from the Community
Substantive Topics (60’)
1. Wellesley Office Park – WAC members (15’)
B. Presentation, Village Center Development – Kathy Pillsbury & Lisa Monahan (30’)
C. WAC Outreach to Waban Community (15’)
2. Brochure Zoning Updates (10’)
Administrative Items (10’)
A. WAC summer meeting schedule
B. Review & approval of Meeting Minutes
C. Treasurer’s Report New Business (5’)
Please note: Agenda order and discussion length is at the President’s discretion.
Waban Area Council
June 9 2022 7:30pm
Held via Zoom
WAC: Rena Getz, Salle Lipshutz, Bill Bracken, Drake McCabe, Isabelle Albeck, Dinah Bodkin
Community: Lisa Monahan, Jay Werb, Alice Ingersohn, Kathy Pillsbury, Carol Todreas
City Council: Andrew Downs, Pam Wright, Bill Humphrey.
Issues from the Community : Nothing was brought up.
Wellesley Office Park (WOP): Rena Getz, Chris Pitts, Sallee Lipshutz, Jay Werb and Maureen Reilly Meagher did a tour of Building 40, the building that was demolished and rebuilt as 350 unit apt bldg. DHCD worked with Wellesley to adopt a 40R overlay on the existing Office Park. 40R allows development into a mix of uses and provides a minimum of 25% affordable housing. Given that it is a rental project, it allowed Wellesley to claim 10% of its housing stock as being affordable. The building is called the “Nines” and it offers 88 affordable units. The lottery is now open for it A public information meeting will be held June 28 at 6:30 via Zoom. Deadline to submit for the lottery is July 25, the actual lottery will be via Zoom Aug 26, 3pm. During the tour developer told Rena 55 of the units have been leased. Two parking spaces are provided per unit. Rena left questions with the developer. All Councilors present expressed a concern with only one entrance and exit for the newly built 350 units - with more to come - via an already busy and difficult egress.. Developer was required to submit traffic design proposal as required by the issued permit and to obtain certificate of occupancy. Jay Werb expressed concern about the traffic merge from the office park on to Rte 9. For many years that ramp was monitored by a traffic cop, but that is no longer the case. Overall concern was that traffic coming off William St onto Rte 9 and heading for Rte 128 will create dangerous conditions at high traffic hours. If heading for 128 South one has to cross three lanes of traffic in a very short distance. RG: this is a safety issue that needs to be addressed immediately. JW: it appears that the developer does not have to address the traffic issue until they do more development at WOP. In order to move forward, the traffic design proposal only has to be submitted, it does not have to be approved. RG wonder where approval process stands with the Town of Wellesley and when we will have another opportunity to comment. General feeling was that the developer will probably not build the number of units they committed to, but the park might end up being a biotech facility. RG agreed to find out more about the 40R process and inform JW. IA wondering whether shuttle has started. Andreae Downs: shuttle is being run to pick up office workers at Riverside and bring them back to Riverside end of day. The developer is arguing that adding residential units will result in the shuttle running full most of the time (currently is often empty).
Village Center Development: RG introduced Lisa Monahan, architect and planner and Kathy Pillsbury, researcher and consultant on climate change. Lisa had a slide show detailing Newton’s history of city planning and zoning, including the multiple state and local agencies involved. The important question being what make a vibrant village center? Safety, comfort, business friendly, access to transportation were some factors. Kathy Pillsbury talked about climate factors; ie car share, bike share and prevention of heat islands. Buildings where more than one family can live. Many multi family units exist throughout Newton. Village squares, streets and buildings that have “human scale ratios.” Ratio between width of street and height of buildings was critical to “human” feel. Showed a color coded map with recommended building heights that was part of the Washington St Vision Plan adopted by City Council. Showed slides and maps of successful village centers throughout New England, ie Wellesley MA, Northampton MA, Portland ME. Spoke of multiple parking lots in Newton which are often empty and which present opportunities for village centered housing units. Spoke of anti-environmental aspect of suburbs far from city centers. IA asked question how much are people using the T given the reality of Covid and the fact that the T service was not very good. Kathy agreed that numbers are probably down, but people are nonetheless still using the T. Carol Todreas stated that in the past village centers were vibrant and that there were not many new homes at that time. Kathy Pillsbury attributes the change to people using cars. Also, that people shop so much online has forced retailers to become service oriented. Many who shop in Newton villages drive there and do not live there. Carol Todreas stated importance of outdoor spaces where people can socialize and eat. Generally agreed that the vibrancy of Newtonville has improved. Owner of Great Harvest told Rena that business is very good right now.
RG thanked Sally Lipshutz for having created Waban Common, a foreshadowing of the open space and village center that we are all looking for. Maureen O’Reilly Meagher also recognized for her importance in creating Waban Common.
WAC Outreach: WAC brochure was distributed on Village Day. Next step would be for WAC members to ring doorbells, chat with people and leave brochures with them. Alice Ingerson suggested informing people via email that door to door visits will be made. Different methods of distribution discussed, ie, setting up a table outside Starbucks on a Saturday morning.
Zoning Updates: Pam Wright gave updates and schedule of upcoming meetings. RG discussed changes in parking requirements for businesses. Commercial building requirements discussed. All memos re meetings and building design updates will be posted to the WAC website. Community engagement meetings are planned for the fall.
Administrative matters: Generally agreed that WAC will meet in July, less sure about August. August meeting must be in the Waban Library Center so it will probably be a hybrid. February and March Minutes approved. Treasurer’s Report $366. Fundraising is necessary. IA: Any feedback on flex posts in Waban Center? RG: her neighbors like it. SL: happy with them. RG will ask policemen whose “beat” is Waban Square whether feedback has been positive.
Respectfully submitted by Dinah Bodkin
July 11, 2022