Chamber News

Needham / Newton
January 27, 2021 Likes Comments

Comm. Ave. will never look sweeter

Imagine being able to -- once again -- cheer runners on as they chug up Heartbreak Hill.

Or picture the joyful return of the Scream Tunnel.
The Boston Athletic Association said it has “cautious optimism” the 125th run up Heartbreak Hill – better known as the Boston Marathon -- will be held Oct. 11, providing COVID restrictions have been lifted.
Last year’s Marathon was postponed from April to September and ultimately canceled two months later, the first time since 1897 that the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual 26.2-mile race was not run, AP reports.
Road races are not permitted until the state’s reopening plan enters Phase 4.
Fauci: State is doing a 'really good job' on vaccine roll out
Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a perspective this week that seems to contradict a common perception here in Massachusetts.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said he is in contact with Gov. Charlie Baker frequently and believes the state is doing a “really good job” on the COVID vaccine rollout.
“The discrepancy between supply and demand looks more acute than profound,” Fauci said in an interview on WBUR’s "Radio Boston."
“For localities like Boston, and a state like Massachusetts, which has done a really good job in being able to put up a structure to be able to vaccinate, indeed, the supply will not meet the demand," he said.
Baker said Monday that Massachusetts will likely see “empty seats” at its public vaccination sites next month due to the federal supply.
But Fauci says the supply is coming.
“As we get into February, March, April and May it will ease up because there will be much more availability of vaccines, than we have now.”
The Globe reported this weekend that Massachusetts "trails every other New England state, as well as New York, in the number of vaccine doses administered per capita, according to federal figures. Less than 5.4 percent of Massachusetts residents had been inoculated as of Friday, compared to 8 percent of residents in Connecticut, over 10 percent in West Virginia, and 11 percent in Alaska."
Baker has promised to have 165 vaccine sites open statewide by Feb. 15. The governor also moved residents 65 or older up on the COVID vaccination priority list, disappointing many workers in grocery, restaurants, transit, sanitation, public works, public health workers and schools who had been next in line.
Meanwhile, officials at our local health departments are expressing frustration that the state has reduced their vaccine allocations to only 100 doses weekly, well beyond demand in our area.

Key I-95 parcel in Needham up for reimagining

A new zoning proposal for two highly desirable parcels currently occupied by Muzi Motors and WCVB/Channel 5 along I-95 in Needham will be presented via Zoom next Weds (Feb. 3) at 7:15 p.m.

An earlier plan for the parcels had majority suppor t from Needham Town Meeting in 2019 but failed to pass because it did not have the required two-thirds majority.
But thanks to the recently passed Housing Choice bill , the project should only need a simple majority vote when a new version returns this spring, provided that this time the project includes housing in the mix.

Relevant materials are here. To view via Zoom use ID; 878-8270-9890.

Yet another update about yet another Watertown life sciences project

National Development and Alexandria Real Estate Equities are hoping to break ground on a life science building at 99 Coolidge Ave in Watertown later this year, the Watertown TAB reports.
Alexandria and National Development purchased the former Mount Auburn Club for just over $32 million last July.

The developers presented the project at a Zoom community meeting last week, with a second session set for Feb. 8.
The new building will be a five-story, 255,000-square-foot office/research lab facility. The project would be the third life science building being constructed in the Coolidge Square area; 23-29 Elm St. is in development by Elm Street Partners and 617 Arsenal St. is in development by Boylston Properties.
And no, I do not get tired of telling you about all the life sciences projects under development in Watertown. Keep em coming.
Racial equity west of Boston focus of new report
A new report explores how racial disparities that exist on the state and national level is impacting MetroWest communities.
The Foundation for MetroWest's report notes the negative efforts housing policies such as redlining, employment discrimination, unequal access to financial services and capital, education systems have failed to equitably serve all populations, inadequate health care delivery, unjust policies and practices in policing and criminal justice leading to a gap in incarceration rates, and many others that inhibited opportunities for people of color to transfer wealth from generation to generation.
“The perception is that the MetroWest is a family-oriented place, a place with access to quality education, with opportunities for well-paying careers, and a good quality of life,” Jay Kim, the foundation’s executive director (and a chamber director) told the Globe. “Yet the data tells us we are not immune from the complex challenges of racial disparities that exist in America.”
The data serves as an update to Impact MetroWest, a report issued a year ago that includes a fascinating array of economic and demographic data.
Need to knows

  • The state’s new searchable map and online tool makes it possible for anyone seeking a COVID-19 vaccine to schedule an appointment once eligible. Those 75 and older can book an appointment today.



  • Better Life Food is planning another round of Pop-Up Markets in Newton Upper Falls. Organizer Chris Osborn is looking for businesses, farmers market vendors and artists for two Winter Festival/Pop-Up Markets at Dunn-Gaherin’s Saturday Feb. 6 and Feb. 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market is outdoors with heaters and under a tent in the case of inclement weather. Past Pop-Ups have proved to be very popular for attendees and vendors. Email Osborn or call 781-354-2077.
PPP rules expand uses
If you missed last week’s chamber webinar with the SBA about the Paycheck Protection Program, you can watch the replay here.
Also, a reminder from Andy Medici at the BBJ that the revised PPP rules allow the funds to be used for “a host of Covid-19-related renovations, upgrades and costs,” including:
  • The renovation or creation of a drive-thru window
  • Indoor or outdoor air or air-pressure ventilation or filtration system
  • Physical barriers such as sneeze guards
  • Expansions of additional indoor, outdoor or combined business space
  • An on-site or off-site health-screening capability
  • PPE, including respirators
Medici is also reporting that some PPP loan applications are being held up by errors generated by the Small Business Administration's loan portal, according to this letter from the American Bankers Association.
City cuts fees, stuns business owner
“I’ve never heard of an elected official unilaterally cutting taxes, especially in this environment.”
That was the reaction of the owner of a Northampton business after learning the city decided to waive the community impact fees it has been charging marijuana businesses and reimpose them only if there is a specific need.
Northampton appears to be the first city in Massachusetts to take this step, which involves foregoing a revenue source that raised $1.8 million last year, reports Shira Schoeberg at CommonWealth.
Mayor David Narkewicz says it’s a way to “promote equity and access” by making it easier for entrepreneurs with less start-up money to open a business.
“I think it aligns with Northampton’s record of trying to welcome people, trying to not put up barriers, trying to treat this industry like all other industries in Massachusetts,” Narkewicz said.
We could use a little more of whatever Narkewicz is smoking around here.

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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