by Irina Costache, Campaign Organizer | Subscribe by Email
Hi all! I’m back from my vacation and excited to get back on the campaign trail! Big thanks to Izzy for covering the newsletters while I was away!
Some important news to start off this week! After a long wait, a preliminary election has been officially confirmed and scheduled to take place in Ward 5 on Tuesday September 10, 2019! There are no other preliminary elections being held in Newton that day, so don’t forget. Bill is now one of three candidates running for the open Ward 5 City Council seat, so please be sure to show up to your usual polling station this September 10 if you would like to see him on the general election ballot. The general election, where voters will choose between the two remaining candidates, will take place on November 5 along with the rest of the city elections.
Lawn sign requests
Now that the preliminary vote has been scheduled, we are set to begin distributing lawn signs around Ward 5 starting next week! Please consider requesting a lawn sign to display your support for Bill’s campaign and help us spread the word around your neighborhood about the September vote!
If you decide that you would like a sign to put up in your front yard, please email me so that we can coordinate on getting one dropped off to you!
Top Voter Issues, Continued
As we noted in last week’s newsletter, last week Bill was able to finish his second pass of knocking doors in Ward 5! Bill began this second pass in May after the end of the first pass from February through April. The top three issues that voters brought up this time around were: 1. Road/Sidewalk Repair, 2. Development & Zoning, and 3. Environment & Clean Energy. These are the same top issues that were brought up during the first pass, but this time Affordable Housing caught up and tied for 3rd with environmental issues!
We’ll be back out on the doors next week to continue talking to you about the issues.
Also, stay tuned for the NewTV / League of Women Voters Ward 5 candidate debate. The candidates will be recording it on Wednesday, August 7th and it will be available on New TV and online not long after.
Commuter rail meeting
On Thursday night, Bill attended a meeting at the Newton Free Library with some representatives of the MBTA Commuter Rail about the longstanding lack of disability access at the three commuter rail stations in Newton and the MBTA’s proposed improvements. Although the commuter rail doesn’t run through Ward 5, some Ward 5 residents take it instead of the Green Line to get into Boston. These stations are currently virtually inaccessible for people in wheelchairs or elderly people who are not comfortable with long staircases, and they are low-level platforms which require a further step up onto the train cars. New stations would not only have platforms with accessibility down from the street level (via ramps and/or elevators depending on the station or level of possible proposal) but would also have high-level platforms level with the train car doors for boarding.
Though they presented various options for increasing disability access, the MBTA representatives said that they are planning to move forward with the most modest, single-platform version of their proposal (while preserving the possibility to expand later to two platforms). This modest concept would be done in 5 years (2024). City Staff present noted that one reason for supporting this smaller-scale improvement is because they believe the austerity regime of the Fiscal Control Board won’t approve a larger-scale option.
Currently, the MBTA is seeking funding from the city in addition to the state. City Councilors present were concerned as to why Newton is being asked by the MBTA to put in funding when other peer communities with similar station upgrade projects were not asked to pitch in funds.
Several community members who were in the audience asked that at least one station have the full upgrade (not the MBTA’s planned partial upgrade) so that there is accessible reverse commute service in at least one Newton station. Another resident said that the city should require the Washington St corridor developers to put money into a fund for Newton’s contribution to MBTA Commuter service upgrades.
Newton’s Commission on Disability notes that this project for ADA accessibility compliance at these stations is now 30 years overdue. They said that, though they are supposed to be consulted on this matter, they haven’t been yet. And, a previous project to make Auburndale alone accessible was shelved a few years ago. (It was not stated at the meeting but Bill has been briefed that the reason it was shelved had to do with the fact that if only Auburndale was overhauled without West Newton also being overhauled, the track layout and scheduling would have required trains to cross over during operations in a way that wasn’t really realistic. All three stations need to be overhauled together for smooth daily operations.)
At some point the slideshow with the various proposals will be available online, but we do not have them at this time to include a link here.
This week through July 31, Winchester St at Boylston St (Ward 5, Precinct 2) will be undergoing overnight National Grid utility work from 7pm to 3am. Per an alert from the Newton Highlands Area Council, “Equipment that will be used includes backhoe, dump truck, jackhammers, and demo saws.”