Below are my thoughts and positions on various topics relevant to Newton today, and tomorrow.
ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSIT: I am committed to collaboration, cooperation and patience to improve the public transit services we have in Newton: commuter rail, subway, buses and accessibility. Newton has been talking with Mass. DOT and other agencies around the need to improve transit availability in Newton and I continue to participate in these important conversations. I will keep coordinating with our state legislators to push for improved service on all three aspects of public transit: bus routes and stops, commuter rail scheduling and stops, and Green Line T subway service. Having both commuter rail tracks, in-bound and out-bound, running simultaneously will help with the availability of stops throughout the day and week. Physical accessibility is an ongoing priority. I will continue to collaborate with Newton Commission on Disability and the Mass. Office on Disability, along with State Representative Kay Khan, Mass. DOT, and others to keep pushing forward to make the stations, trains, subways, and buses fully accessible and will adequate stops.
AGGREGATION AND RENEWABLE ENERGY: Thanks to Green Newton, 350.org, Mothers Out Front and State Rep. Kay Khan for helping me learn more about this topic. Through aggregation for purchasing clean electricity, the City has set the standard by choosing aggregation for municipal electricity, while giving residents the choice to opt in or out. While a few dollars a month toward clean energy is a worthwhile choice for many people, it’s unfeasible for some who struggle to balance a household budget, especially with high housing and utility costs. Prices will fluctuate over time, but right now there are price savings for being part of Newton's Power Choice. Residents are automatically part of the program but have a choice to opt out if they choose. It's an important step in reducing the use of fossil fuels and helping with climate change. Newton Power Choice will add 46% energy from local wind and solar sources, bringing Newton to exceed its goal of 60%, to 80% renewable energy which is the highest in the Commonwealth. Check it out at https://masspowerchoice.com/newton and choose to opt up to 100% clean and local electricity.
ARTIFICIAL/SYNTHETIC TURF FOR ATHLETIC FIELDS: In my professional work as a landscape designer and as a parent of three kids who participated in softball, baseball, soccer, and lacrosse on many if not all of Newton's fields (and my husband was a coach) I agree there are not enough acres of recreational fields in Newton. Scheduling is really tough, rain and weather-related cancellations/postponements make availability even more challenging.
We do not have enough fields to meet demand but a good portion of the "need" is by groups and players from outside Newton who rent space on our fields, including adult sports teams from other towns. That is income and revenue for the City. However, a prioritization for Newton teams, leagues and users would improve availability of fields.
Although I wish there was more field space available, I do not believe we should sacrifice the safety of our athletes, both youth and adults, by exposing them to PFAS and other lifetime chemicals in exchange for more field time. Orthopedic injuries are another contested aspect of synthetic turf, depending on what research and which coaches and parents you speak to. For me, health, safety and environmental goals must take precedence.
CITY CHARTER: As an observer of the City Council for over 30 years, I believe that a smaller council would be more effective. At the current size of 24, our City Council is the largest in Massachusetts (the average size is 10 for other cities in MA). This is unwieldy, leading to delays and unnecessary work, some of which can well be done by other bodies, including city department staff and existing boards or commissions. At-large Councilors are all committed to their wards and neighborhoods and well represent those local concerns.
CLIMATE ACTION: Environmental issues and climate change are urgent matters. The City Council has a role in showing leadership and behavior-modeling, through a range of policies that can show how a municipality can take a pro-active and multi-pronged approach. The wide range of climate change related issues that can be highlighted through policy-making and citizen outreach include: making alternative forms of transportation more available, reliable and safe compared to single occupancy car trips, aiming for 100% renewable energy sources, reducing greenhouse gases in public facilities and vehicles, installing ground and roof-top solar panels, exploring how Newton may host wind generation on selected sites, reducing waste at the source, maintaining our street tree canopy, reducing the plastics we use, recycling textiles, encouraging compact, smart-growth near public transportation, and applying Passive House standards, technologies and construction benefit the environment are but a handful of the arenas the Council can show leadership on. I use Newton's Climate Action Plan as a standard and goal to evaluate many proposals, and agree that we should aim for carbon neutrality to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions and a carbon neutral City footprint.
I support mixed-use, transit oriented development, fixing gas leaks, reducing waste, switching to renewable energy, making small, daily personal decisions in the direction of environmentally sound changes. A relevant quote from a friend: "There is overwhelming consensus behind planting more trees, promoting electric vehicles, and adopting energy efficient building standards. Yet some self-styled environmental leaders pull back from approving well-located, well-designed, energy-efficient mixed use development, which our Climate Action Plan makes clear is an essential part of our response to the climate change crisis. To lead on environmental issues in these times means not picking and choosing which climate actions are convenient or politically expedient to adopt.
The Massachusetts Sierra Club endorsed me in July 2019 as "an environmental champion".
COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Increasing commercial, office, lab science and research, shared work spaces and retail development in Newton is desirable for a number of reasons: to gain taxes from these uses that help offset our overly-heavy reliance on residential property taxes, to enliven the streetscape with a variety of uses to attract residents, to offer employment opportunities.
Improving transportation access and a supply of workforce housing are interconnected and can expand Newton's commercial, retail and cultural vitality. These co-dependent issues are a roadblock to hiring and keeping workers, which contributes to the lack of transit and housing close to employment, according responses of Newton Needham Chamber members- from small “mom and pop” independent merchants and retailers, to larger technology and life sciences companies. I co-docketed an item before the City Council to find and support ways to keep small, independent and local businesses in Newton.
Newton was on the cusp of being a destination for laboratory and science research laboratory uses in several locations, which would diversify commercial development, add employment opportunities, while bringing additional revenue in terms of tax dollars. Some of these projects are now on hold due to the economy and financing.
COVID-19: The worldwide coronavirus pandemic affected all of us in ways that pushed our abilities to adapt our work and family routines, keep up to date with the constant changes in statistics and recommended safety protocols, try to stay healthy. In Newton, we witnessed difficulty, confusion and hesitancy about getting students back into the schools physically while they sorely lagged academically and suffered emotionally. Assuring that the school buildings were safe in terms of ventilation and air quality, the ability to socially distance physically, vaccination availability and COVID testing for teachers and staff all contributed to the difficulties that parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and students themselves wrestled with. As we are now out of the crisis, the consequences to students of missed learning and socialization, mental health challenges relating to isolation, businesses that failed, present new areas to address.
City Council business went virtual for the most part, with all Committee and full Council meetings occurring via Zoom, and made available by NewTV. We are now meeting in hybrid, some in person, some via Zoom. Resident participation increased for Newtonians with virtual and hybrid options, making it easier to be part of municipal deliberations from their homes.
Many local businesses suffered, including restaurants, gyms, shops, child care programs. I worked on solutions for curbside and al fresco/outdoor dining, shared streets, helped create a Newton Coalition for Children and Families where I serve on the Steering Committee, avidly support the #DineLocal campaign and hope outdoor dining is here to stay.
DOG PARKS: Newton has a gem in off-leash dog walking parks. I support continuing it and expanding designated areas for dog walking to other appropriate locations, distributed throughout various sites in Newton. These designated dog parks serve the needs of dogs, their owners and walkers, and other residents who want fresh air and exercise with or without canines present. A combination of on and off-leash, fenced and not-fenced areas serve our canine companions well! All license and off-leash tag fees and fines collected go directly back into dog park related programs, staff and site maintenance such as fencing, new grass, etc.
ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: I’m committed to Newton’s environmental health and sustainability. The Sierra Club endorses me for my commitment to protecting the environment. I'm honored to be the only candidate they endorse from Ward 3. From street trees to pocket parks, sustainable development, high performance buildings, solid waste and recycling, source reduction, renewables, stretch energy codes, solar panels, electric powered city vehicles and charging stations, identifying and fixing gas leaks, waste reduction, and aggregating municipal electrical energy and improving transportation options: we need this multi-pronged approach to energy and the environment.
GAS PIPELINE LEAKS: Thanks to coalition building amongst several environmentally oriented groups including Green Newton, the Multi-town Gas Leaks Initiative, and with a particular shout-out to the awareness and advocacy being done by Newton’s Mothers Out Front (MOF), we have a collection of groups and organizations focusing on this issue. MOF helps identify gas leaks, and presses National Grid to repair them as soon as possible. Newton does not have the money in its budget to do all these repairs, nor should it be solely responsible. Working with the DPW, National Grid, private groups and individuals makes for more progress than leaving it to any one entity.
Education for residents around electric, thermal heat pumps, and induction alternatives to gas for heating, cooking, clothes drying etc. is in the works and should be expanded.
GREEN and OPEN SPACE: As a practicing landscape designer trained in landscape architecture, land use, site planning, and the City’s first Open Space Coordinator, I am wholly committed to enhancing Newton’s green space. We have active, passive and conservation areas to be maintained, improved, and expanded whenever possible. There are sidewalk berms, pocket parks, full-sized parks and playgrounds, wildlife corridors, waterways, walking and biking paths, rail–trail adjacencies, street trees, green and bike way connections to our waterways, and municipal grounds as parts of our overall green space. I am particularly hopeful about the possibilities of increased greenways access to the Charles River, as a public/private venture. Protecting and increasing our city tree canopy is very important.
I support and participate in city-wide open space master planning, including the connectivity of various open spaces. Complete Streets combines storm water runoff and retention, planted areas, sidewalks, benches, lighting, separation of bike/pedestrian/vehicular users, safe accessibility and increase to the urban tree canopy together. Better suited, often native, and a variety street trees species, set in locations more likely to ensure long term success than a 2’ wide sidewalk strip squeezed between asphalt and concrete, now being used vs. the monocultures and exotics planted 30-50 years ago. Use of native plants vs. exotic and invasive plant materials is a goal I champion. This aligns with Newton's Climate Action Plan, as well as creating food and habitat for wildlife. The Newton Conservators is an amazing volunteer group committed to the "protection and preservation of natural areas … for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of Newton for scientific study, education, and recreation.”
GUN CONTROL, VIOLENCE AND FIREARMS: Recent mass killings in the Lewiston Maine area remind us of the need to ban assault weapons and tighten gun control. The spate of mass shootings in the U.S. heightened concerns about access to weapons and gun control. A proposal for a gun store to open in Newtonville brought the topic of firearms and weapon sales to the forefront several years ago. Newton has not had any gun shops in many years. Federal law allows for the sale of guns, so the Mayor, City Law Department and City Council looked into legal ways to restrict potential locations and hours of operation for gun stores. A restrictive ordinance was passed in early June 2021 that will prohibit the proposed store, while making any other applicants at a location within three small and distinct areas come before the City Council for a Special Permit, which will need a 2/3 vote. Exploring an outright ban is going. I spearheaded an ordinance that bans the discharge of air guns, air rifles, pellet guns, BB guns and other air-propelled projectiles.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Preservation of historically significant structures and landscapes is an extremely important part of maintaining our connection to the past, and changes over time. We need to be able to protect these valuable assets and markers of Newton's history. The City Ordinance that covers this, Chapter 22, was put into place in 1993, had not been reviewed in any substantive way until a few years ago. A balance needs to be weighed for protecting important historic resources with individual property rights, other goals of the City such as affordable housing and economic development.
I initiated and sat on the committee to review and update the historic landmark and demolition delay ordinances, in order to make them more clear and comprehensible. I nominated 128 Chestnut St. West Newton, 145 Warren St. Newton Centre, and the Masonic Lodge in Newtonville for landmarking, and strongly supported the Newton Corner Grace Church bell tower restoration project.
In my professional work, I design projects with historical preservation components and goals (several on Frederick Law Olmsted original designs), and have a staff consultant with expertise in this area. I believe in the value of historic preservation, but also want us to consider how preservation aligns with other city goals.
HOUSING: I am a longtime advocate for creating diverse housing options to meet the needs of all incomes, racial identities, abilities and ages. Newton has a demand for more affordable housing units, as does the larger region. Finding a variety of ways to meet this need is one of Newton's major challenges. Mayor Fuller joined with other Boston Metro area leaders who are committed to creating more affordable housing; I applaud and support that goal. As one of the original members of Newton’s Housing Partnership and former Chair of the Newton League of Women Voters Housing and Land Use Committees, I organized public forums to educate residents about the need for more diverse and fair housing options, advocated on behalf of numerous proposals before the City, hosted and led conversations on this topic, worked with and for CAN-DO and Newton Community Development Foundation (NCDF), provided pro bono landscape design and fundraising work for those organizations. Engine 6 is a local group doing education and advocacy around housing in Newton and the intersections with transportation, sustainability and social justice. I'm proud to have been an early Steering Committee member before being elected to the City Council.
I am committed to educational and advocacy efforts, as well contributing to the zoning review process in the City and within City Council to help make changes that will expand the housing options for all incomes and ages. One of my priorities is to facilitate and encourage coalition-building among various groups with different missions towards the common goal of sustainable development and the creation of diverse housing: ownership and rental, to meet the range of needs for families, seniors, millennials, employees, employees and city workers. We need to work on these efforts to stop squeezing out Newton’s middle class, families, lower income, BIPOC populations, younger and older residents. I support the recent creation a Housing Trust Fund, and following the goals of the MBTA Communities Act.
INFRASTRUCTURE: As a member of the Newton City Council's Public Facilities Committee, I regularly learn about crucial, if unglamourous, infrastructure: roads, streets, sidewalks, water, stormwater, sewer, utilities and wireless connections. Improving and maintaining these networks is paramount to help improve decades of maintenance neglect. Continuing these improvements is a top priority for me. Coordinating pedestrian, bicycle, vehicular movement, in conjunction with water, sewer and storm drain improvements, synchronized with city and other public utilities, is necessary. The latest roads paving and maintenance program being used by the Dept. of Public Works offers short and long term benefits. Simultaneously we must maintain our urban canopy of street trees and accessibility for all users. Housing and transportation are intertwined with infrastructure, and all need to be considered as interwoven systems and needs.
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION: Unseen, invisible needs face many Newton families dealing with mental health and addiction issues. The stigma is so strong that silence and isolation prevail. Many of us have a family member or friend that struggles with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, a learning disability, alcoholism, co-occurring disorders, or substance use disorder (SUD).
Newton’s opioid crisis is as critical as the nation’s. Our own opioid fatality rate went up over 140% a few years ago, and COVID-19 led to an increase in SUD deaths. It happens here too. It is unacceptable. Fentanyl and fentanyl-laced cocaine is the latest killer substance, skyrocketing the national fatalities. Our middle and high school aged students have availability to this drug, knowing and unknowing.
We can and must do more to educate and support families to help them learn about these issues and their own role in recovery. Join me in the effort to stop the stigma. Education and support for family members has shown greater progress for both those members and outcomes for the loved one. Newton can do better. My efforts center around providing support and help for families of those struggling with substance use disorder. Newton first responders carry Narcan, and I am pushing for the distribution of fentanyl test kits as one tool to prevent overdose deaths. I am pushing for state legislation to accept fentanyl test kits as tools toward diversion and harm reduction, vs. how they are currently classified as drug "paraphrenalia".
Re-allocating funds, prioritization and City staffing to better address mental health is one of the issues that continues.
MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT: I support Newton's zoning redesign goals, as the current ordinance is outdated and often hard to comprehend if not adhere to. How those goals get translated into practical zoning ordinances that can clearly and fairly shape change is the stage we're at now. Criteria set out to encourage compact, pedestrian-oriented, mixed use, village centers should include:
A variety of transportation options are available
Services and amenities exist nearby to meet needs of residents
Each proposal transitions well into existing, surrounding area
Active street front enhances local businesses and pedestrian activity
Single floor living, accessible to people of all abilities
Additional public open space is created
Sufficient set back from existing uses
Housing for a mix of incomes and ages, with a variety of housing types and sizes
Create a beneficial environment for residents and not adversely impact traffic
Each proposal should be considered on its own merits, how well it aligns with zoning criteria, and that overall benefits to the city outweigh disadvantages. Creating more public open space should be required, and is one of the advantages of compact, “smart development”. Balancing input from abutters with what is for the general welfare and benefit of the entire community is always a difficult process, that encompasses listening to all perspectives, learning from professionals, doing my own research, and forging a well-considered opinion for each specific proposal.
MUNICIPAL REDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GASES: I support the installation of solar panels on roofs of municipal buildings. We should look at this potential for every existing and all new construction of public buildings. For larger private developments, we need to consider requiring rooftop solar as a condition of granting Special Permits. Ground-mounted solar canopies also can have a significant role. Despite being a relatively built-out city, there are locations where this is appropriate. Residential homes and private businesses also play a part. Newton has a home/private sector program that is relatively successful but could use a boost of more outreach and citizen education. As solar technologies improve we will see more ways to include both roof-top and ground installations.
The City-owned vehicle fleet is being replaced in a scheduled manner by vehicles that reduce emissions and are more efficient, ultimately aiming to go all-electric. Due to budget constraints that timeline is not showing full conversion for few years. There are not many appropriate sites for wind generation in Newton. Eliminating incineration and importantly lowering the need for it by reducing waste is paramount.
NATIVE PLANTS: Use of native plant materials and plants that attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees and birds helps promote biodiversity, food and habitat for wildlife, and benefits our ecological system. Natives are hardier in this climate, are not invasive, and generally require less water. Plants play an important part in reaching our climate action goals. I have created draft lists of native plants that Newton's Planning Department can use as a guide when assessing proposed plant list for development projects. I am part of a group of residents dedicated to increasing pollinator gardens and networks across and through the city, for both public and private properties. I am leading the early stages of a Native Plant ordinance.
PASSIVE HOUSE: Passive House is a strict building efficiency standard that can be a key contributor for addressing climate change. It is increasingly being required, especially for new construction buildings, and well worth the Newton City Council considering as a condition in some Special Permit applications.
It's a highly effective path to Net Zero and Net Positive. It’s not just for houses—passive building works for schools, offices, hotels, multifamily, and high-rises too.
Passive House certified buildings use quantitative metrics to ensure five building-science principles:
The building envelope is extremely airtight (4-5 times more air tight than required by MA Energy Stretch Code), preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.
Continuous insulation throughout the building's entire envelope without any thermal bridging.
High-performance windows (often triple-paned windows) and doors - solar gain is managed to exploit the sun's energy for heating purposes in the heating season and to minimize overheating during the cooling season.
Bring in much more fresh air than required by code with balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation.
Much smaller heating and cooling system.
This leads to construction that reduces a building's overall energy use by 40%+ compared to a new construction building built to MA Energy Stretch Code requirements and most LEED levels. To meet Massachusetts' climate goals, we need to ensure that all new construction is extremely efficient. Passive House is an excellent tool to do that. MassSave has incentives to help owner's build and certify to this standard.
PLANNING AND ZONING: Newton is forward thinking and pro-active in its planning. Rather than respond to proposals in a re-active way, we should determine and put to paper what we want Newton to be. Overall master plans for the city should encompass smaller master plans for specific neighborhoods and villages, as each has its own character. The Pattern Book details existing characteristics worth protecting that set the contextual foundation to shape future changes. Zoning redesign is underway, an on-going process for zoning ordinance review and update. Currently looking at Village Center Overlay District recommendations. There is no proposal to eliminate single family housing across Newton, yet the City is looking at where appropriate locations to permit multi-family housing may be, in village centers where public transit exists. The goal is to keep the character of most residential neighborhoods, while allowing for growth of commercial and residential housing in village centers. Newton’s Comprehensive Plan lays out a vision that we should continue to implement.
The Special Permit process is an important tool for reviewing and approving requests that extend beyond "by-right" conditions. Some simpler requests such as front step or porch set backs, dormers, etc. can be done administratively by the Planning Dept. but the City Council's role in Special Permits usually results in a better end project.
POLICE REFORM: It is evident nationwide, and in Newton, that police reform is needed. I am a strong advocate for discussing and working with the Newton Police Department to improve community safety, and to build/rebuild a foundation of equity/equality. NPD has taken this issue seriously, including training for racial profiling, police response to mental health episodes, and abuse of force, while maintaining community safety as the #1 goal. I supported the Mayor’s establishment of a Police Reform Task Force, but wish that there was more specificity in the Final Report about what a community policing and a community safety model could actually look like. Reallocating financial, departmental and staff address societal needs and balancing community safety with restorative justice should:
improve relationships between police and the community,
support the work of the Police Department and other relevant staff
ensure racial, ethnic, economic and gender equality in police dealings
engage and coordinate with trained mental health professionals to de-escalate situations
provide accountability and training
Systemic changes to our health care system need to take place across the country, such as better access to mental health services, available and affordable health insurance that covers mental health and addiction.
POLLINATORS: Native plant materials play an important part in the plant pollinator system that helps boost biodiversity and environmental sustainability. Installing recommended plants that provide food and habitat for animals as part of the pollination process on both private and public land is an initiative I am involved with. This effort helps further our environmental sustainability goals, requires less water and maintenance, encourages biodiversity, and animals such as bees and butterflies.
RACIAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE and EQUITY: Newton's various FORJ (Families Organization for Racial Justice) groups' goals should be acknowledged and incorporated into city polices by the School Department, Executive Department, City Council, Planning Departments and incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan. The City should create and fund a position for a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as the Newton Public Schools has done, to extend this focus beyond the schools. I support the state's Housing Choice law bills, and establishing a Housing Trust Fund in Newton. Newton should join with other nearby communities to collaborate on existing housing and equity models.
SENIORS/OLDER PEOPLE/AGING IN PLACE: With a projected population growth that will bring Newton to over 1/3 of its residents being age 60+ within the next decade, we must work to promote the goals of enabling those who choose to live here the ability to do so. Newton is a designated a Livable and Age Friendly Community. Let’s continue to meet the broad spectrum of needs. This includes advocating for seniors and their families, following the strategic planning done by Newton’s Department of Senior Services and the Newton Council on Aging. Housing, services, programming, safety, walkability, transportation and access to amenities collectively are needed.
Construction for the new Center for Active Living (NewCAL) will encompass multi-generational programs and services, is in the works to replace the previous building at the current site. The programming and building configuration have been well vetted and I support the proposed plans, including the acquisition by "friendly eminent domain" that obtained an abutting property.
SHARED STREETS: One of the carryovers from the pandemic that needs to be incorporated beyond COVID is the concept of shared streets. This had been implemented across American and in Europe for years, but has become more apparent as a way to safely gather and move all users outdoors during the coronavirus. Rather than have every street be geared only or mainly toward motorized vehicles, the street is shared by pedestrians and bicyclists as well as vehicles, slowing traffic to create safer conditions, improving accessibility and walkability, creating more inviting and well-used outdoor spaces that may also incorporate mini parklets, landscaped areas, outdoor dining, artwork and community gathering.
VOTING RIGHTS FOR YOUTH: I am excited to see civic engagement by Newton teenagers and young adults, students at the middle school and high school levels. The "Generation Citizen" programs in all four NPS middle schools, and the Center for Civic Engagement and Service at Newton North provide students with exposure and advice on how to become a part of community service, civics, advocacy and leadership. It makes sense to take this civic engagement to the next level and allow people ages 16 and 17 the right to vote in local elections. Towards this goal, I support the Vote 16 Newton effort (which mirrors Vote16USA, an national campaign to extend voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds), a non partisan, student-run campaign to lower the voting age in Newton for municipal elections.
WASTE MANAGEMENT AND ZERO WASTE: We are far from achieving the Zero Waste goal, but that strategy is the path to stay on. Reducing waste at the source of consumption is the best way to attain zero waste. In the meantime we work towards improving our recycling, and how to dispose of waste generated. Eliminating incineration was a critical step forward. Reduction at the source is so important, and that goal is an ongoing initiative.
Simultaneously, we’ve got recycling (trash, yard waste, solid waste, etc.) and household hazardous waste to deal with. Sorting these categories is a first step, having the resources to deal with each “destination” is another. Newton continues to work on its offerings, but some areas can use improvement. Within the Department of Public Works is an Office of Environmental Affairs, so there are human resources to connect with. Several current City Councilors (I've heard us referred to as The Green Team!) are committed to net zero and associated environmental goals that I align with. Education for residents about what can be recycled or not is ongoing, as the recycle market keeps changing. For example, Newton is partnered with HELPSY for a textile recycling program, which takes material out of the waste stream as well as brings income to the City. There is a city-wide goal of reducing Solid Waste that I support and coordinate with. I'm excited to be collaborating with youth involved in climate action, from Newton North and South High Schools, and the Boys and Girls Club.
WEST NEWTON SQUARE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: After all the lane changes, "enhancements", pavement paint and signage, things are still not moving well nor safely enough in West Newton Square. I believe the adaptive signalization system that was originally promised, where the lights communicate with each other in real time, with real traffic, is the only solution left to try. The infrastructure is in place, we just need the system to be installed. Using some of the recently found $40m which the Mayor agrees should be used for one-time projects would be a great fit.
WINTER PARKING BAN: Newton's winter parking ban is a bludgeon instrument of excess control over a safety issue that could be managed by a less draconian tool. Having access to the streets during a declared snow emergency for plowing and emergency vehicles is crucial, but this can be accomplished without banning on-street parking to all residents for four solid months December through March.
The current ban unfairly impacts residents of Newton's denser neighborhoods, where there is less on-site parking generally available (driveway space, garages, carriage houses), no nearby municipal parking lot options, more multi family and rental housing.
Other abutting towns and cities have created effective solutions that include allowing overnight parking during snow emergencies in school, DPW, parks and other municipal lots. This will require adjusting plowing schedules.
Newton's Police, Fire and Department of Public Works Departments have all said they could make a ban work and do not oppose it. The configuration of Newton's streets, not laid out on a simple grid, has many narrow, curvy streets, neighborhoods near BC and Lasell where overnight parking enforcement is problem, make a simple solution trickier as certain areas will need to be exempted.
I was in favor of a two year trial to explore the impacts of lifting the ban. A citizen petition to put this question on the ballot to is very likely to succeed in 2025, giving voters the decision making power. We should spend these next two years gathering data, evaluating what and where it works, and where it doesn't, to craft a workable solution. I hope a Working Group will be established to address all this. Shortening the time frame of the ban is also something I support and am docketing an item on.
ZONING REDESIGN: I support the current work of updating Newton's zoning ordinances. It's a very difficult process to address and balance needs that oftentimes appear in conflict, such as historic preservation, open space, economic development, housing and commercial development. Zoning changes can contribute to expanding commercial and mixed uses, offset prior exclusionary housing practices and expand Newton's capacity on all three.
WHY VOTE FOR ME?: As a multi-issue community leader for over 30 years, my credibility and reach is strong in Newton. Being an elected official as a City Councilor gives me the ability to affect positive change; I am able to VOTE on matters that come before the City. I believe in the value of community participation, listening, collaboration, combined with facts and doing my homework. I bring a voice of civil discourse to often contentious and challenging issues.