The Mount Ida Campus in Newton will play an important role in the UMass Amherst’s reopening plan.
The university announced this week
that nearly all courses will be taught remotely this fall. But students will have the option to live on its campuses in Amherst or Newton, under strict
Up to 500 students will be able to live on the Mount Ida Campus
in the N-Squared Innovation District, regardless of whether they have a course on the campus or are conducting an internship, which typically would
be required for residence. (As part of the university’s Fall 2020 Reopening Plan
students are not required to return to either campus.)
“The Mount Ida Campus provides an option for those students who are seeking a residential option for the fall but are not comfortable joining the more
populous campus in Amherst,” Mount Ida Campus Managing Director Jeff Cournoyer said. “They will join existing Mount Ida Campus cohorts, including Veterinary
Technology students, and have the opportunity to build a living-learning community in a safe and socially distanced environment.”
Hotels get a potential boost
Could Charlie Baker’s decision to loosen restrictions on travelers
visiting Massachusetts and residents returning home from seven Northeast states be a precursor to allowing Phase 3 businesses to reopen next week?
Phase 3 includes gyms and health clubs, museums, movie theaters, casino floors, and at least some theaters, as well as tourist attractions like bus tours
and harbor cruises.
Baker said yesterday that anyone coming to Massachusetts from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey will
no longer be asked to self-quarantine
Visitors from other states and countries, including hotspots like Florida, will still be asked to quarantine.
Yesterday, Rhode Island began allowing larger gatherings and businesses like theaters to reopen, while other states
were adding new restrictions.
Also yesterday, the Baker administration added $20 million
into programs to help renters and homeowners keep up with housing payments while Beacon Hill lawmakers filed a bill
that would extend the current eviction moratorium into next year, while also compensating at least some landlords for lost rental income.
Just when thought I was out ....they pulled me back in.
Restaurant openings and closings
There’s no notice on their website but according to this real estate listing
the Rox Diner in Newtonville is the latest local restaurant to close its doors.
In Wellesley, Fastachi, the nuts and chocolates shop is also closing, according to the Swellesley report.
For restaurateurs now operating, or getting ready to reopen, there’s a lot of useful info here
about COVID safety practices.
Flushing out COVID symptoms
Wearing face masks, practicing social distancing are important ways to help curtail COVID-19.
Through the end of the year, the sewage arriving at the Deer Island Treatment Plant from Boston and three dozen municipalities will be tested three times
a week for signs of the coronavirus, meant to serve as an early warning system for spikes in the disease.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has approved a six-month, $200,000 contract with Biobot Analytics
a startup founded by MIT graduates and faculty, to collect wastewater test samples for signs of the virus.
Needham announces anti-racism initiative
The Town of Needham has announced the launch of the Needham Unite Against Racism Initiative
an undertaking intended to foster a dialogue about racism in Needham and produce actionable strategies to ensure Needham is a welcoming and inclusive
Residents are invited to share personal experiences with town officials about racism or discrimination in Needham, and their concerns and suggestions for
improvement. Questions from residents and corresponding answers will be posted online.
The Select Board will host a listening session July 21 at 6:15 p.m. (via Zoom
to hear directly from residents about their experiences in Needham and better understand what challenges exist. Residents who wish to speak or submit
written comments can email OTM@needhamma.gov
Signs of appreciation
Lawns across Newton are sporting a number of lawn signs, from Black Lives Matter to congratulatory messages for recent graduates. Also, popping up are
the “Signs of Gratitude”
thanking frontline workers.
The signs were created by local residents
and paid for by The Village Bank.
They’re free although recipients are invited to donate to one of three local nonprofits responding to COVID-19-related needs in Newton. More than $4,000
has been raised to date. Request yours here
New resources and grants
Finally, this morning here's a few resources worth noting.
- The COVID Relief Coalition offers pro bono legal assistance to vulnerable small businesses. The Coalition’s intake form for small businesses to receive free legal services
is available here
- Women and minority owned small businesses can find help navigating the impact of the COVID-19 though the Small Business Strong initiative. Services includes expedited, pro-bono resources ranging from access to capital to consulting, business restructuring, business growth,
digital marketing and customer engagement plans.
- Coworking spaces may apply for grants of up to $100,000 for new equipment or building improvements, including adjustments to help spaces adhere to
the social distancing and health and safety standards as part of MassDevelopment’s Collaborative Workspace grant program. Details here.
Spilka open to expanded tolling
We’re fortunate that state Senate President Karen Spilka lives just to our west.
This week Spilka was speaking up for commuters along the Mass Pike (and those who use the Tobin Bridge), asking why we pay tolls each day, while drivers
on other major highways drive for free.
“If tolls are such a good way to pay for roads and bridges, then it should be fairly and equitably done across the state,” the Ashland Democrat told the Codcast
“If we’re going to keep these tolls, to me progress would be other tolls at the border. We pay tolls at the border. This should be a fair and equitable
system and it is not.”
She’s not ready to endorse a specific design but the final project must include funds to improve Route 9 and the Framingham commuter rail “so it’s safe,
effective and more frequent” before any project begins. [Framingham Source has more here
“I won’t allow a toll increase just on the Turnpike [to pay for the project],” she added.
Be back tomorrow, or sooner if something noteworthy happens.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber