Dear Neighbor,

This past week I found myself at City Hall two nights in a row. The first evening was for the Northland vote. The second concerned more density in residential neighborhoods—a topic for another time.  

My takeaways? The Northland plan is amazing and ambitious and has many fantastic aspects to it. Unfortunately, the Northland Developers stopped just short of making it a perfect fit for Newton. After 18 months of tough negotiating, they felt they had enough votes on our council to stop short of what really needed to happen to get 100% approval from our city council. The seven councilors who voted against it expressed very real concerns. They listened to the numerous emails that were sent to them. In short, they were true representatives of our community, taking into account not only their personal views but those of the residents. To get a feel for the meeting I've posted links to four councilors' contributions to the meeting:
Listen to:

Full Meeting

Today I have three items:
What's going on in Newton
Thoughts on the Rightsize Newton (RSN) petition for a citizens' vote
Notable Newtonians
My neighbor Aedin Culhane put together this amazing presentation about Dai Buell and The Aloha Bungalow
Heard on the Radio
An idea for Newton? "Santa Clara County Plays Matchmaker With House-Sharing Program"

What’s going on in Newton? 
Thoughts on the Rightsize Newton (RSN) petition for a citizens vote

Unlike Riverside, Northland has made fewer accommodations for the concerns of the community. The neighbors to the project asked for phasing to see how things are going and Northland said no. The Northland project size is about the size of the Natick Mall without the large roads surrounding it. It seems reasonable to me that the neighborhood would like a thoughtful approach to the impacts as the project develops.

I want to see Northland succeed, and I think with a little more work and
give on Northland's side we could get there, but negotiations are long,
hard work. What is happening is one side said they were done listening and the councilors that supported that said, "Okay--we will vote it through." The other side, the RSN petition signers, wasn't done and a citizens' referendum is the only mechanism to show that. Newton is at its best when we can all work together. I would like to see the vision for this parcel realized, but with a bit more thought for how the community that lives in that area (and those of us traveling there) will be impacted.
At the end of the day, Northland is a for-profit entity. They want to make money and maximize their profits. The best way for them to do this would be to tweak things, work with the community, and move forward. Of course, none of us can tell the future. Would Northland invoke 40B if the City votes on a referendum? Would they do the final amount of work to make our community happy? Who knows? But I personally, support the right of our community to have a voice--so I will sign the petition.
If you’d like to learn more about 40B here is a video.
If you’d like to sign the petition and get others to sign you can download the petition here - sign it and get others to sign it. You must print it double-sided or keep the first page with the signatures so the petition will be valid.
Lastly, I don’t feel the word NIMBY should be used by neighbors addressing each other. I believe we are all guilty of having feels about what happens in our neighborhoods and using this language never furthers a positive conversation. Let’s not silence anyone in this discussion. A true democracy thrives on engaged conversation and shutting people down doesn’t help anyone.  I would conjecture that we all want more affordable housing and a good plan for the Northland area and Needham Street. The disagreement here is a much smaller divide than first appears.

Notable Newtonians

Dai Buell and The Aloha Bungalow, 1982 -1939
I first learned about Dai Buell and The Aloha Bungalow from Aedin Culhane who put together this presentation for Newton's Historic Commission. 

From Wikipedia: The story of her early life is an "example of the value of confidence in self, combined with the grit and pluck to back it up." She came from humble beginnings and "lessons were a problem but nothing daunted her."[3] and she paid her own way through music lessons by teaching a class of her own from the age of 14.[4]

She studied piano in Boston under Carl Baermann (son of the composer) and Antoinette Szumowska, and had her professional debut in January 1916 in Steinert Hall, Boston. New York and Chicago debuts followed early in 1917.[5] She toured in Europe, giving recitals in London, Paris and towns in Germany, Austria, and Holland.[6] She appeared as soloist with the Boston Boston symphony orchestra several times, including in 1928 of Chopin "Concerto in F Minor" with Serge Kouosevitzky conducting.[7]

Heard on the Radio

Santa Clara County Plays Matchmaker With House-Sharing Program
Santa Clara County is facing an affordable housing crisis and came up with a novel and interesting approach. While I was campaigning I met an amazing woman who is able to stay in Newton by renting out a room in her house. This piece from WBUR's Here and Now got me thinking, could we do this in Newton?
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Warmest regards,

Copyright © 2019 Lisa Gordon, All rights reserved.

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