Chamber News

October 01, 2020 Likes Comments

We now know when construction starts

MassDOT just unveiled the long-anticipated schedule for the $31.1 million Needham Street-Highland Ave renovation.

It's the biggest road construction project to touch our region in a generation. It will significantly improve the corridor for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and buses.
But the next four years of construction on this major thoroughfare is going to be horrendous.
The project includes a portion of Highland Avenue in Needham, the bridge over the Charles River, all of Needham Street and a segment of Winchester Street up to Route 9.
Construction begins in November on the Highland Ave end of the project, between Webster Street and Hunting. By late winter, crews should be at Wexford Street and the Charles River section of Highland.
“We plan to continue working as long as the winter allows us to,” Mike Smith, the project’s contractor, P. Gioioso & Sons, said at a Zoom community meeting last night.
Work will primarily take place from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. No lane closures will take place during peak traffic hours (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
“We will basically be marching down from one end to the next, so we shouldn’t be in front of any business for very long,” Smith said.
Work on the Newton portion of the project will start in the summer, between Oak Street and Tower Road on Needham Street.
The bridge over the Charles will be widened starting next summer, eventually allowing for two lanes of traffic heading into Newton and one lane into Needham, with cantilevered sidewalks extending over the river.
Completion date is Aug 2023.
The slides from last night’s DOT presentation are posted here.
West Newton Boston Sports Club closes
Boston Sports Club no longer has a Newton location.
The troubled chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month and never reopened at Wells Ave. following the March shut-down, and many complaints from customers.
Now, Newton Patch reports, the West Newton location is closed too.
Here’s better news

It’s especially nice these days to be able share news about new openings.
  • Gigi’s Pizza Co. has opened on the westside of Watertown at 129 Waltham Street, featuring not just pizza but sandwiches, burgers, salads and wings. Watertown News has details.
  • PNC Financial Services Group Inc. has opened its first Greater Boston retail branch at The Street in Chestnut Hill this week, the BBJ reports. The branch is one of five it plans to open in 2020 as it works to establish a foothold in the market amid the pandemic’s chaos. The new branch features the sort of tech-heavy, open-space look popular with banks today.
City Council to hear from restaurateurs tonight
The Newton City Council will hold a meeting via Zoom tonight (Oct. 1) at 6 p.m. to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on restaurants. The Council has asked to hear from restaurateurs about their COVID-19 challenges. Go here to join the Zoom meeting, Passcode: 836985
Seeing red, right down the Pike
Governor Charlie Baker announced this week that communities ranked as low risk can begin moving into Step 2 of his Phase 3 reopening plan.
That’s good news for our communities.
Newton moved from “yellow” to the more favorable “green” in the weekly data released last night. Needham slipped from “green” to “yellow." Watertown and Wellesley remained “green.”
But the news isn't good for Boston, which flipped to “red” yesterday.
And since the virus doesn’t honor municipal boundaries, that’s bad news for us too.
Walsh blames ‘irresponsible’ behavior

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the change to "red" is due to "small outbreaks due to parties, due to college students, due to, quite honestly, irresponsibility." (State House News)
"I do get frustrated because here we are today laying down millions of dollars to open schools, we have businesses on the verge of bankruptcy, we have restaurants that need to open up, we have arts venues that need to open up, we have people that have to come back to work and we're in the process of [being] concerned about do we have to shut everything down again because 25 here, 25 there, 25 people over here decided to get together and have a party," Walsh said.
"That's irresponsible, so I guess I can say I am frustrated and I'm concerned."
Still, we can open things Boston can’t
Baker's new guidance allows both indoor and outdoor performances to open with 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people, among other things, just not in “red” communities like Boston.
The governor said this week that he's not overly worried that phasing in reopening plans by community could lead to people crossing from red communities into yellow, green, or gray communities and spreading contamination, writes Bruce Mohl in CommonWealth.

He said he would much rather have people crossing municipal borders to take part in organized events with rules on wearing masks and social distancing rather than holding big barbecues in their backyards with no rules on masks and distancing, Mohl added.
Finally, an update on our diversity project
A quick update on our plans to publish the Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color list later this month.
Our selection committee is reviewing your nominations this weekend. We hope to be notifying our honorees and announcing a virtual event shortly.
Meanwhile, if you would like to demonstrate your company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in Greater Boston’s western suburbs, the deadline for becoming a sponsor is tomorrow. Details are here. Or email Lise Elcock.
Have a good Thursday.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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