by Irina Costache, Campaign Organizer
This past Sunday, Bill attended a visioning meeting concerning the Riverside T station site on the Lower Falls/Auburndale village line. Held at Williams Elementary School, the packed meeting spent time answering questions from the audience mostly to clarify the visioning process (and how related or unrelated it was to the proposal on the table from the developer), which did not leave much time to discuss the public’s broader vision for the site. (People did write down comments about their vision on poster sheets on the walls around the gym.)
Despite the cold and snowy weather, Bill spent time canvassing on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday! This week, he knocked on 112 doors in Ward 5, and heard from voters about their environmental concerns, senior and affordable housing, and Newton schools.
(If you'd like to donate to help us pay for our campaign literature as Bill goes door-to-door, please make a contribution now!)
On Wednesday evening, Bill was at another reception in Waban for the Suzuki School of Newton, as it joins the community in Waban Square.
Finally, on Thursday evening, Bill attended the monthly Waban Area Council meeting. The meeting covered new issues from the public and the Riverside visioning process, as well as featured a discussion of the report from the City Charter Reform subcommittee and updates on the zoning redesign. Here is a recap of key points from the meeting!
Issues from the public
Proposed marijuana shop opening for four corners (by a different developer than the one proposed and withdrawn last year)
Possibility of getting Northland mitigation funds for various intersections further away from the project, including closer to Rte 9
Attention brought to the fact that WAC has not heard updates on solutions from the city about speed problems on Allen Ave and Beethoven Ave since the public forum last spring
Interest in closer coordination between the Friends of Hemlock Gorge and the Friends of Quinobequin
Talk of the DCR eventually aspiring to build a riverwalk along Quinobequin and whether or not they are moving forward on part of that soon
City Charter presented a counter-proposal from city council subcommittee. This built on last week’s announcement from Councilor Rice that a Programs & Services Subcommittee has completed a one year review of two years of the Charter Commission process. Here are some key things to know:
No major changes that would require a re-vote by the city – mostly just re-introducing the minor administrative changes recommended in the ballot question
However, one of the proposed changes affects neighborhood area councils. It would move some of the definitions away from the charter and into the city council ordinances
There is also a proposed change that would change the threshold for signatures to get local ballot initiatives on the ballot
There are no proposed changes to size or composition of city council, in contrast with both the 2017 ballot question and the 2017 lame duck session proposal from city council
Councilor Rice (not present at the WAC meeting) has been advocating for wording to protect existing area councils, but also wants to make it easier to form new area councils as well. He will be chairing an upcoming public hearing on the proposed charter revisions at the Programs & Services full committee
Bill remains committed to finding improvements to the city charter that have broad support, since Ward 5 voters did narrowly support the 2017 proposal on the ballot, although the city as a whole did not. (This view is not shared by the Area Council.)
There was also a brief zoning redesign discussion, but most public discussion is in limbo until the citywide buildout is released in the final week of February showing how each lot’s zoning would change under the current draft overhaul of the code.
One final word: Don't forget our upcoming campaign fundraiser for Bill on Sunday February 17. More information available here.