Chamber News

Needham / Newton
February 02, 2021 Likes Comments

It's just still once a year, isn't it

So much about this pandemic feels like Groundhog Day.

The movie that is. Same thing happening over and over and over.
We didn’t have enough toilet paper. Enough PPE. Enough ventilators. Enough PPP dollars. Enough testing kits. Enough testing sites. And, now, enough vaccines. Enough appointments.

We’ve had too many surges. And now fears of a Super Bowl superspread and fears about new strains.

We don’t need Punxsutawney Phil – or even Ms. G– to tell us how long winter will be. It’s already too long.
But I’ll happily be going here this morning for the distraction.
Just watch out for that first step. It's a doozie .
New vaccine site opening at Wells Ave
Beth Israel Lahey Health and BID Needham is opening a vaccine clinic at the site of the old Boston Sports Club at 135 Wells Avenue in Newton.
The vaccination site will be open seven days a week beginning in mid-February.
The hospital system is now hiring clinical and non-clinical individuals to serve as hometown heroes administering the COVID-19 vaccine at Wells Ave. and throughout the Greater Boston area.
In addition to medical positions, they’re looking to fill administrative and clerical roles (no previous healthcare experience required). Both full time and part time positions available. Full details here.
Who’s in front of you
Want to know when you might become eligible for your vaccine? The Globe has created this online tool that estimates how many millions (three in my case) of Massachusetts residents are ahead of you in line.
Need to know where to go once you’re eligible? The state is now offering two ways to search for a vaccine site near you: By this map or by zip code. Or download a list here.
Dr. Paul Biddinger, who specializes in emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General and heads the governor’s COVID-19 vaccination advisory board tells the Codcast that one third of those eligible to be inoculated in Phase 1 haven’t received their shots yet even as Phase 2 began yesterday.

The state has not known week to week how much vaccine is arriving Biddinger told Sarah Betancourt.

"That means that the state hasn't been able to tell the hospitals or other vaccinators how much vaccine they're getting until sometimes a day or two before it arrives."
But the state is now getting several more days’ notice of how much vaccine is arriving each week, which will help with appointment scheduling.
And in a column for CommonWealth ,Todd Brown, executive director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, argues that the state has erred giving vaccines to large chain pharmacies and would have had better, more efficient results and fewer death turning to independent pharmacies.

Newton gas leaks cause for alarm

There were more than 920 natural gas leaks left unrepaired in Newton last year, reports Shaun Robinson for the Globe. That's more than in any other city or town in Massachusetts, except Boston.

Another 429 leaks were repaired, the data show. Local advocates say Newton’s exceptionally high number of leaks — which can be hard to spot but are easy to smell emanating from manhole covers, patches of grass, and even street lamps — put people and the environment at risk.

Keeping up with all those life sciences projects

The proposed life sciences campus on Galen Street just outside of Watertown Square was approved by the Zoning Board last week. Boston Development plans to build the project in two phases totaling nearly 450,000 SF of Class A Office/ R&D LAB. Watertown News has more .

Two other projects will roll out details in upcoming meetings:


  • National Development and Alexandria will be hosting a review and discussion of conceptual plans and specifics relating to the redevelopment of the 6 acre site. Mon. Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Details here.
Firm predicts devastating retail loses

Last week I shared a link to a national study saying restaurants just experienced their worst year in history.

This week comes a study from research advisory firm Coresight Research, predicting 10,000 retail stores will go dark this year, reports CoStar.
Need to knows
  • This morning (Feb. 2) at 11 a.m. Professor Leanna Farnam, chair of Lasell University’s Science and Forensic Science Program, will host “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines But Were Afraid to Ask.” Join the webinar. Pre-registration not required.


  • Needham officials will share its rezoning plan for the parcels occupied by Muzi Motors and WCVB/Channel 5 along I-95 via Zoom tomorrow (Weds) at 7:15 p.m. Relevant materials are here. To view via Zoom ID: 878-8270-9890


  • Looking for a lender to help you apply for the PPP? Here’s a list of local chamber member banks that may be able to help. The SBA also has a searchable Lender Look Up tool listing all eligible lenders.
Building groups concerned about one aspect of climate bill
Building trade organizations and labor unions are joining developers and other business groups in raising concerns about a provision in the recently-passed climate policy bill that allows cities and towns to adopt a yet-to-be-created net-zero "stretch energy code."
Baker has already vetoed the bill once and is expected to send it back to lawmakers again this week.
It requires the Department of Energy Resources to "develop and adopt, as an appendix to the state building code, in consultation with the board of building regulations and standards, a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code that includes, but is not limited to, a definition of net-zero building" which could give cities and towns the authority to require that newly-constructed or renovated buildings meet a net-zero emissions threshold, reports Colin A. Young for State House News.
The Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association warns the provision could force developers to stop construction until they have a better understanding of what the new requirements might be.
"It is impossible for anyone investing millions of dollars to build an office building or a new multifamily building near transit, as examples, to understand the new costs that such a requirement will add to their project."
(Other groups concerned about the provisions include NAIOP Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Chamber and the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reported earlier.)
Supporters of the provision, like Mass. Climate Action Network, say a net-zero stretch energy code would help ensure that older and less-efficient buildings are replaced by highly-efficient ones that can tap into renewable power, reported Young.
When he vetoed the climate bill last time, Baker said he supports the development of a new high performance energy stretch code, but suggested he would rather see it go through the Board of Building Regulation and Standards.
New ways to help restaurants
Newton chef David Punch is among a growing number of restaurateurs who have begun offering subscriptions to keep their kitchens busy during the pandemic, writes Devra First at the Globe.

The programs are modeled after the CSA farm share programs that have become popular in recent years.

Punch’s Sycamore in Newton Centre offers a monthly School Night Subscription. On Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, subscribers pick up a surprise ready-to-eat meal.

“It’s working really well,” Punch tells First. “Getting people to commit in advance takes the guesswork out of your weekly sales. You know what’s coming down the pipe.”

And the Needham Community Council has created another great way to support restaurants.

The “Buy A Meal - Give A Meal Program” supports a different Needham restaurant each month and helps a neighbor in need receive a freshly cooked meal.
Each month, the Council’s 275 food pantry households will each receive a gift certificate to the restaurant of the month. Go here to make an online donation.
Really, make a donation.
That's it for today. Don't forget your booties cause it's cold out there today. It's cold out there every day.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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