Campaign Week-in-Review 7/19/19 - Mass Nurses Endorsement, 2nd Round of Door-Knocking Done, Chestnut St Paving and Safety

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Thanks to Izzy for covering the past few weeks of newsletters. Irina should be back next week. Here is a campaign update from me directly this week:

Support from the Massachusetts Nurses Association

I am so honored to have the endorsement of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the statewide union representing both nurses at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Ward 5 and public employee nurses working for the City of Newton. This is my mother’s union and I've picketed with them at various hospitals during labor disputes.

Second Round of Door-Knocking Complete

This past Saturday, Ward 5 resident Lois Levin, of Bike Newton and various environmental and transportation groups, came out knocking doors with me and it was a huge success because she knows so many of the residents in her immediate neighborhood.

On Tuesday, I finished my second complete pass of door knocking through Ward 5 since the beginning of February! Effectively I have knocked 4,366 doors myself and people helping me have knocked another 200. I've now spoken to more than 1,300 voters at least once -- and to many of them twice. We hope to have a summary of the most frequently mentioned issues from our second pass in next week's newsletter like we did after the first round. In the meantime, I need to go buy some new sneakers because my current pair has worn out already this year!

I hope to be back out on the doors again by the end of next week.

Chestnut St Paving and Safety

On Thursday night, I attended a community forum at the Waban Library Center with city officials on repaving and possible safety changes on Chestnut St between Beacon St and Commonwealth Ave. (Last summer Bill attended the meeting on paving & safety improvements for the section of Chestnut St from Beacon St to Route 9, but those overhauls have been delayed to 2020 because of water main issues and other underground factors.)

Here are some bullet points from the discussion:

  • This section is slated for overhaul in 2021 in theory. There are only 5 key intersections between the end points of this section but a few other cross streets.

  • There are no crosswalks across Chestnut in this whole section. It's very dangerous to cross almost anywhere in there but many people (including me) need to do so.

  • Another safety issue is delivery trucks parking on the blind curve on Chestnut St blocking traffic.

  • Oakvale and Chestnut intersection is blind for both drivers and pedestrians. There was a very bad single vehicle crash by there this past weekend after a speeding driver lost control.

  • Someone suggested a digital speed readout sign in the blind curve on Chestnut. The city staff said they might put the temporary one from the police department out soon.

  • I brought up comments from residents I talked to on the doors on Oakvale who complained about the increase in cut through traffic on their private way due to map apps, which degrades the road quality faster. But the public is allowed to drive on private streets, so the city staff say they can't do much. (In a recent newsletter, we noted many voters on various private streets across Ward 5 bringing up this issue.)

  • Many Chestnut residents noted that people are very aggressive toward drivers following the speed limit and sometimes pull around them across the yellow line. (I have also seen this happen.)

  • There were lots of safety design concerns about Short St and how drivers incorrectly treat it as a ramp bypass, which it wasn't originally created for.

  • A resident at the corner of Roslyn asked for a crosswalk and various slowing measures to allow kids to cross safely to get to the playground on the other side or to things in Waban Square. People also turn too fast onto Roslyn from Chestnut.

  • The city continues to struggle with figuring out how to safely take (or re-assert control over) enough land for complete sidewalks along the east side of Chestnut St.

  • There is not enough lateral space (through the little ravine Chestnut Street was cut through) to add bike lanes to Chestnut St, so that's not really an option. If prevailing speed were actually 20 mph it might be safe for bikes to ride in the street with cars there but it's not happening so far. So, bike detour routes to provide other pathways of getting safely from A to B are the current priority for this area instead of bike lanes.

  • Some residents are pushing for temporary speed fixes like plastic/rubber "speed cushions" that allow fire trucks through quickly but force cars to slow down.

  • Crosswalk priorities across Chestnut are at Fuller St and Caroline Park. But these also first require sharp curtailment of speeding, since we don’t want people crossing thinking it is safe and then being struck by a vehicle ignoring the crosswalk.

Other recent community news

Last Friday evening, Bill attended the City Hall protest with Mayor Fuller, Congressman Kennedy, the Newton Democrats, and our state legislators against the federal immigrant concentration camps, which Kennedy toured a few weeks ago. It was a packed demonstration with many outraged Newton residents. Our state representatives from Newton cited the US policy of turning away ships of Jewish refugees from Germany in the run up to the Holocaust as a reason we must not collaborate with the national policy on refugees and migrants at the border. Congressman Kennedy compared many of the detained immigrants to his Irish ancestors fleeing the deprivations of the Irish potato famine.

Earlier this week, there was a big water main break on Needham St. It took several days of work and traffic disruptions to shut down and repair and to repair the street, but as of this afternoon, Newton DPW says all the work has been completed and all lanes are re-opened. Let’s give a big hand to the DPW crews and first responders who braved the heavy rains and thunderstorms earlier in the week to stop the water main rupture.