Now that we have that out of the way, here’s what else is going on.
Downtown Wellesley mixed use project withdrawn
A proposal to build a combination of affordable and luxury housing and perhaps even an arts space at the Talby Commuter Lot
in Wellesley Square is off the table, at least for now.
“We’ve reached the conclusion that the RFP that was issued [earlier] was under different circumstances and was really calling for a different project than we feel would be beneficial at this point,” chair Tom Ulfelder said.
Newly elected board member Ann-Mara Lanza agreed with Ulfelder but encouraged her colleagues to not give up on the idea of developing housing on this town-owned parcel to both create more affordable housing and generate more downtown foot traffic.
Mark Development introduces new Riverside partner
Mark Development went before the Newton City Council to present its proposal to bring two life sciences buildings to its 13-acre Riverside Station project.
This time they’ve brought along their new partner, Alexandria Real Estate Equities
, the “life-science development powerhouse” that is already adding a biotech facility just a little further down Grove Street at Riverside Station.
The lab buildings at Riverside Station would replace a previously approved hotel and office building, as well as some retail and housing units and generate about $800,000 in added annual tax revenue for the city.
The project returns to the Land Use committee on April 27.
Watertown opens life sciences doors even wider
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Watertown's embrace of the life science sector has enabled the town to meet its pension liability and build three elementary schools without an override. (And I hope Newton's City Councilors are paying attention.)
Sure enough, this week Watertown's council took yet another step to welcome the sector. It approved a zoning ordinance to allow life science labs as well as light industrial uses in the downtown area near Watertown Square. (Watertown News
Needham's Select Board no longer drama-free
Needham’s Select Board elected Matt Borrelli last night to serve as its chair and Marianne Cooley as vice chair for the next year.
The chair selections have been no drama affairs for years, as members politely rotate as predetermined.
But two-fifths of the board were brand new last night
. And it quickly became clear that business as usual will no longer be usual.
, and Marcus Nelson
were elected less than 24 earlier and sitting in seats that had been occupied by John Bulian and Moe Handel for a combined three decades.
For a board where turnover is rare and unanimous votes have been typical, there were more spit decisions and abstentions last night than I can ever recall seeing from that board (including an effort by Balachandra to block a negotiated police pay raise).
And seemingly fearful of a split endorsement of the town meeting warrant item to rezone the Muzi/Channel 5 parcels
, Borelli moved to delay that vote until the next board meeting.
It’s going to be a fascinating year.
Need to knows
- The Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility is offering free cardboard pickup from businesses in town for recycling. The cardboard has to be “clean” without other types of waste mixed in and be of a quantity that makes sense. Email James Manzolini for pickup.
- The City of Newton, in partnership with the Town of Needham, and the MassTrails grant program is looking into reusing or replacing the rail bridge that connects Christina Street in Newton with Needham for use as a fully accessible, shared-use bicycle and pedestrian connection. They’ve created a short video that explains the project and a survey to collect input.
- The Project Beacon Stop the Spread free COVID-19 testing site will close in Framingham at the end of this month. Framingham Source reports.
Is this seat taken? Let's hope not
The CDC says
leaving middle seats open could give airline passengers more protection from COVID-19.
Risk of being exposed can be reduced by 23% to 57% if middle seats are empty, compared with a full flight. (Boston Globe
Share your concerns about UI rate spike
By now many business owners and nonprofit operators have received their first quarter unemployment insurance tax bills and were likely stunned by the increase.
The assessment which was 0.58% in 2020, has climbed to 9.23%, adding thousands to many bills even for employers who never furloughed or laid off a single worker.
Finally, we're looking for a few volunteers
Earlier this week your chamber was able to help 100 restaurant and food service workers get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The initiative was made possible thanks to Newton Mayor Fuller and her team who introduced us to the Holtzman Medical Group
which operates the Holtzman clinic
on the UMass Mount Ida campus in Newton.
Restaurant workers (including servers, runners, bussers, etc.) are the only frontline workers who routinely come in contact with customers not required to always be wearing a mask in public.
Many also have language barriers, live in at-risk communities and need assistance and assurance with the process.
We learned late last night that Holtzman has some additional appointments available for additional employees next week. But we’re in need of a few volunteers to help with data entry for a few hours, preferably this Saturday (April 17) but otherwise on Monday (April 19).
Holtzman needs to know ASAP if they should hold the slots. Our restaurant owners to arrange transportation and schedule their employees. Email me
if you can help.
Be back tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber