Chamber News

October 02, 2020 Likes Comments

Forget NIMBY. How about NIMBN?

You’ve heard of NIMBY. How about NIMBN?

As in “Not In My Back Nine.”
 
And that’s pretty much where Newton’s latest housing battle is taking place.
 
The latest obstacle to the long-delayed, much needed, Riverside Station project is coming, not from residential abutters, but from Woodland Golf Club, reports the Globe's Jon Chesto.
 
Developer Robert Korff has spent two-plus years seeking approval for the project, which would create 582 apartments (including 103 affordable units) along with 253,827 square feet of office space, 150 hotel rooms and 38,895 square feet of ground-floor commercial.
 
Now, after months of negotiations with neighbors (and significant concessions) and just as the Newton City Council was ending additional months of grueling public meetings and gearing up to vote, Woodland (not a direct abutter but located on the other side of Grove Street) pops up with, Chesto notes, “concerns about sunlight bouncing off the new buildings and burning the grass.”
 
Can you hear my eyes rolling? Can you blame Korff for coming across as more than a little irritated in the Globe article?
 
You don't have to feel sorry for Robert Korff. But you should be angry about the loss to our region’s economic vitality if this really well thought out, transit oriented, project falls apart.
 
It's unfortunate that someone talked the club into raising objections at the 11th hour.
 
In addition to needed housing (and yes we still desperately need housing), the City of Newton would net $1.65 million annually in new tax revenue (Woodland pays around $250,000 in property taxes a year, thanks to a state law that allows private country clubs to pay only 25 percent of their property taxes).
The project also includes the developer paying $1.3 million for traffic or neighborhood improvements in Lower Falls and Auburndale; $3 million in improvements to the Riverside Greenway trails; $1.5 million for capital improvements for the Williams Elementary School; and $1.4 million toward sewer improvements.
 
Plus Korff would be springing for a new exit ramp from I-95 northbound directly into the new development, as well as a new roundabout at the Grove Street southbound I-95 exit/entrance ramp are also part of the plans, which will greatly improve traffic along Grove Street.
 
Not-for-profit aims to help employers with COVID tests
 
A VC-backed not-for-profit is looking to help businesses, universities, nonprofits and schools with COVID-19 testing, the BBJ reports.
 
Project Beacon is in the process of setting up testing hubs, where employees can go to receive a results within minutes. They’re presently operating in Kendall Square with plans to open in Watertown, Waltham and other locations.
 
Businesses with 100 or more employees can also can set up a dedicated site on-premises. The operation is also hoping to find real estate developers and property managers willing to provide testing sites in their office buildings. More details here.
 
Eversource offers payment arrangements
 
A moratorium on disconnecting utilities for commercial customers expired last month.
 
And sure enough, this week Eversource resumed the process of sending disconnect notices to business customers. Disconnections for non-payment can resume as soon as Oct. 27.
 
If your business is struggling to pay an Eversource bill, or is worried about paying in the future, the company suggests calling 866-861-6225 to create a flexible payment arrangement; with no down payment for eligible customers, and up to 12 months to pay.
 
Once enrolled and as long as payments are made, customers are protected from service disconnection for the duration of the plan. Eligible small commercial customers that enroll in and complete a payment plan may also qualify to receive two bill credits equal to two months of past bill charges. Go here for more.
 
Other resources that may be helpful
  • MassSupport Network is offering free community outreach and support services across the state in response to COVID-19. The network includes a Crisis Counseling Program set up to assist Massachusetts residents. Since the group formed they have been providing emotional support services both by direct phone contact and online groups. Recently they have been working to support parents and teachers during school re-openings, and are available for supporting the people on the front lines through similar formats. Find resources, services and a screening tool here.
  • The Attorney General’s Office is currently providing information that small businesses can use to connect them with resources that they may need, including information about loans and grants, rent abatement, insurance coverage, and ways to cut expenses.
Blue Bikes roll into Newton's north side
 
The bike share service Blue Bikes officially launched in three Newton sites yesterday: Washington Street at Crafts Street, the Nonantum Library and Centre Street at Washington Street.
 
Unlike Lime Bikes, the bike share company that pulled out the region last year, Blue Bikes use a docked system which requires bikes to be returned to a designated location.
 
Watertown also recently joined the network, with locations at Coolidge Square, Watertown Square and North Beacon Street, with an Arsenal Yards location coming.
 
BC coach takes responsibility for maskless celebration
 
Boston College football coach is taking responsibly for failing to contain a rambunctious, maskless, postgame celebration by his players following the team’s home win over Texas State Saturday.
 
The team had posted a short video showing players shouting, jumping, dancing and high-fiving. They were indoors, not wearing masks or social distancing, which alarmed Boston City Council Alicia Bowman, among others.
 
“That’s on me. That’s not on the players,” coach Jeff Hafley told the Globe. "These kids have done an unbelievable job. Since June, 3,500 straight tests and we haven’t had a positive, knock on wood. They’ve done everything we’ve asked.
 
“I got caught up in the moment, it was an emotional game, and I got back in the locker room and I should’ve had my mask on and I should have had the players have their masks on. As safe as we feel when we just got tested, I’ll learn from it and I’ll take responsibility for it.”
 
Ok, that’s all folks. Have a good weekend. Mask up and shop and dine locally.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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