March Mtg 2014
AGENDA - subject to change until the Tuesday (3/11) prior to Thursday's meeting
Thursday, March 13, 2014 – 7:30pm
NEWTON CITY HALL – Room 209
Approval of Minutes of February 27, 2014 Waban Area Council Meeting
COMMENTS: (8 Minutes total) ALDERMEN: John Rice, Deborah Crossley and Brian Yates;
WARD 5 SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER: Steve Siegel
CITY NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE: Ana Gonzales
BURNING ISSUES: From the Community (8 minutes total)
1.) Waban Area Council meeting venue possibilities - update. (5 minutes)
2.) William Paille – Newton Director of Transportation
A. Add-A-Lane Project timeline
B. DOT traffic counts done in Waban (including difference between promised vehicle count sites and actual count sites)
C. The evolving plan for Beacon Street through Waban, including possible temporary fix for visually impaired resident until installations from this plan are implemented.
3.) Updates – (Total 20 minutes)
B. Zervas - Discuss request from NHNAC to submit letters to urge School Committee, Aldermen, and Mayor to remove urgency from decision-making on Zervas site and promote engagement in broad discussion of “walkable” schools.
C. St. Phillip Neri – verified info gathered from Alexandra Ananth of the Planning Dept. at Newton City Hall.
D. Riverside – Possible letter to our Aldermen
4.) Area Council Petition to add certain streets in Waban to our catchment area – volunteers needed in early May.
5.) Update on “sidewalk” discussion with Alicia Bowman. (Barbara Bower)
COUNCIL ORGANIZATION: Committee Formation and Tasks
A. Friends of the Quinobequin – Sallee Lipshutz and Maureen Reilly-Meagher – update.
B. Vision of Waban (2064) – Chris Steele and Chris Pitts – First Report - November, 2014?
C. WAC Silent Auction possibility update.
D. WAC functionality - How do we make government work for us? How should we engage with the City? Are we outsiders or insiders? How do we make our meetings more efficient and effective to accomplish what we are trying to accomplish? Do we wish to take positions on such issues as demolition delays, zoning reform, other? How do we form/join committees? Please be prepared with your ideas on these issues.
A. The Waban Area Council sponsored educational program on zoning relief previously scheduled for March 20 is now tentatively scheduled for early April, depending on availability of suitable location and speaker(s).
B. Waban Improvement Society Announcements: 1.) 11th Annual Progressive Dinner-Sat., March 15, 7-11pm. RSVP to email@example.com; 2.) 10th Annual Waban Village Day, Sun., May 18, 11am-3pm. Volunteers needed.
NEW BUSINESS: (To be discussed at April 10, 2014 Meeting)
ADJOURN: Next Meeting: Thursday, April 10, 2014, 7:30pm – Location –TBD
The location of this meeting is handicap accessible, and reasonable accommodations will be provided to persons requiring assistance. If you need a special accommodation, please contact the Newton ADA Coordinator, Joel Reider, at least two days in advance of the meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-796-1145. For Telecommunications Relay Service dial 711.
Meeting Minutes March 13, 2014
Members in Attendance: Barbara Bower, Joe Corkery, Andreae Downs, Matthew Gardella, Rena Getz, Sallee Lipshutz, Maureen Reilly Meagher, Christopher Pitts, Kathy Winters (members are referred to by their initials).
Aldermen in Attendance: none
Other Attendees: Gretchen Friend, Isabelle Albeck, Doris Robinson, Harry Robinson, Bill Renke, Michael Leslie, Monica Grinberg, Groot Gregory, Dianne Khalaj, Jerry Reilly, Marilyn Broyles, Deena David
Minutes of February 27, 2014 meeting approved by unanimous vote.
Issues from the Community.
Gretchen Friend asked how she could pursue problem of increased parking down Beacon St. to Dorset Rd. She has observed commuters who park their cars there for the day. AD will do some research on the issue. JC suggested getting neighbors to petition the traffic council to put in parking restrictions.
Doris Robinson asked if there is a way to get merchants in the square to do a better job of cleaning up the snow on the sidewalks and ensuring access from parked cars to the sidewalk. AD said it is the responsibility of the businesses to keep it clear and suggested a call to 311 to resolve the issue. It was also suggested to contact business owners directly to ask that they do a better job of snow removal.
Meeting Venue. Discussed possible handicap accessible sites for WAC meetings. The Windsor Club boardroom is too small to accommodate us. CP to continue to pursue use of Windsor Club ballroom. BB reported that the elevator of the Union Church is not currently working properly. There is a $300 fee to use Zervas. SL has lined up rooms at City Hall through the calendar year, and suggests that we could use Brigham House for meetings in between our regular meetings. Council members agreed. Discussion of improvements necessary to make Waban Library Center handicap accessible. AD and MRM volunteered to write a letter to the Mayor asking to make Waban Library Center renovations a priority.
Information from Bill Paille, Newton Director of Transportation. Bill Paille was unable to attend the meeting as scheduled due to a personal commitment. He submitted an email to respond to questions posed by SL. A copy of the email is attached. The Council discussed the need to have more information about changes to the traffic configuration around Angier and the square. Bill Paille intends to come to our next meeting.
A. Angier. Isabelle Albeck reported that the Historical Commission wanted more from the current Angier building to be preserved and the architect has responded by incorporating certain elements from the old building into the design (i.e., signs, fireplace).
B. Zervas. Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council has asked us to support them in asking for possibly having a 16th school, keeping Zervas smaller, and/or delaying the construction of Zervas as planned. NHNAC has drafted a letter to the School Committee (a copy of which is attached) and would like for WAC to join in the letter. SL reported on the Zervas Community meeting that took place Tuesday, March 11. SL also pointed out that we have not heard from Waban residents on the Zervas issue. There was a long discussion of various aspects of the Zervas rebuild and the overall school renovation planning in Newton. Discussed the fact that Upper Falls currently has no community school. Groot Gregory from Newton Highlands Area Council said that members of NHNAC feel there is a need for more community engagement on the issue. Some members of the Council expressed reservations about joining in the letter because they did not feel they had sufficient information to question the School Committee’s decisions or to ask for the Zervas process to be slowed down. AD Motion not to take action on the letter and to write a letter to Srdj thanking him for bringing this to our attention but telling him we have decided not to act on it. RG asked that we not vote on that because she wants to support NHNAC on this issue. No vote was taken. CP and RG agreed to reach out to the Zervas community to find out what they think about the issue.
C. SPN Update. SL reported that she received email from Ald. Deb Crossley stating:
Aldermen Yates, Rice and I are in receipt of a letter (US mail) from the attorney for the developer, Stephen Buchbinder, that says the developer is considering several development options, that he is interested in getting input from the Waban community and would like to hold a community meeting later this month.
They have also sent a letter to the Newton Historic Commission asking to have an informal conversation with the Commission at their April 24 meeting - after meeting with folks from Waban.
SL also spoke with Alexandra Ananth of the Newton Planning Dept. who told her she had also heard from the developer’s attorney, who said the developer was considering three options: (1) development of single family homes by right, (2) multi-unit development through Special Permit, and (3) a multi_unit development through a [friendly] 40B permit. Under all three options, developer plans to demolish the church. (SL’s summary of her conversation with Alexandra Ananth is attached)
D. Riverside. No update.
- Sidewalk Update. BB met with Alicia Bowman, Pedestrian Advisory Coordinator, to discuss sidewalk improvements and safety. BB was told there are funds from the Angier project available to improve sidewalks, but if we are not organized with a list of improvements needed, that money may not be put to use. BB will put a small committee together to work on the issue.
- Friends of the Quinobequin. SL discussed Friends of the Quinobequin. SL and MRM held a preliminary meeting on Thursday March 6 and provided a document summarizing that meeting (a copy of which is attached). SL suggestion for action on this is that on March 27th WAC hold a meeting of Friends of the Quinobequin. There was a discussion about composition of the committee. SL and MRM want it to be a committee of the whole council. KW expressed reservations about the efficiency of that, and suggested that it be set up as a subcommittee with WAC members and residents. Others suggested that WIS might be a better umbrella since it is set up to take donations.
- Fundraising. SL and MM attended the NHNAC meeting where they discussed coordinating our silent auction efforts. Unanimous vote to agree to partner with the NHNAC on a silent auction effort. SL will try to get someone to agree to chair the effort.
- WAC Functionality. There was a discussion about ways to shorten the length of monthly WAC meetings. AD suggested we only have items on the agenda that we are ready to address. RG recommended posting documents in advance of the meeting with the expectation that members will read the documents ahead of time and be ready to discuss. Members also suggested one or two people take the lead on issues and report back from time to time, but only if there is something relevant to report or discuss.
- WAC Info Session on Zoning Relief for Housing Developments. KW reported on the progress of the WAC_sponsored informational session on how housing developers get permits, which is scheduled for May 1. Focus will be on the process for permitting under Ch. 40B (regular and friendly) and Newton’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (Special Permit). Presentation will highlight opportunities for community input under each process. We have lined up panelists from ZBA, Land Use Committee, and City’s planning department. We will post and email flyers to community as soon as details are finalized. KW, MG, MRM and SL to continue to work on the event.
- Next meeting. April 10, 2014 at City Hall. Adjourn.
Respectfully submitted, Kathy Winters
Attachments: William Paille email
NHNAC letter re Zervas
Friends of the Quinobequin summary
Sallee Lipshutz’s summary of her conversation with Alexandra Ananth