Just after my November update went out, Newton lost a valued public servant. Ward 1 Councilor Allan J. Ciccone, Jr., known to us as Jay, passed away suddenly at 55, leaving his father, siblings, children and grandchildren. I join my colleagues and the city in mourning a good, kind man who loved Newton and worked to make life better here for all.
David Olson, our trusted city clerk, announced this month that he will retire in February. David has just shepherded us through two difficult elections in the midst of the pandemic. As with everything he does, David pulled through with equanimity and professionalism. I know Council will miss his presence at our meetings and his competence in office, and wish him well in retirement.
It is of course not a loss for Representative-elect (and former Ward 2 City Councilor) Jake Auchincloss, but in terms of City Council, his presence and his perspective will be sorely missed. His resignation, effective Nov. 10th, means that I am now the chair of the Public Safety & Transportation committee. Personally, I will miss having his advice and collaboration on many important topics of very local import--while welcoming his strong voice on transportation and climate in Washington.
All this means two vacancies, and a special city-wide election, coming soon.
Zoning & Planning
A new Planning Department hire, Nevena Pilipović-Wengler, is coordinating a series of listening sessions on Zoning Redesign. You can tune in remotely (only) Dec. 2, 7-9 pm and Dec. 3 12-2 pm. You need to RSVP to attend. The presentation will be posted Dec. 4 on the Zoning Redesign website along with a survey for those who can’t comment during these sessions.
If you want to read the original documents yourself, as well as all the memos from councilors, architects and planners, you are in luck. Thanks to volunteer Richard Rasala zoning documents organized by subject (as well as date) are on his website here, where they are easily found and cross-referenced.
This month I collaborated with colleagues to weigh in on proposed service cuts to the MBTA, which, if effected as planned, would make regional economic recovery difficult, increase traffic congestion and work against state goals on climate mitigation, equity and air quality. Our letter is here. More detail is available here. Add your own comments here.
Newton’s own Ashish Jha has been weighing in on the necessary steps to contain the pandemic--in case you missed this Boston Globe article.
What we can all do: wear a mask; don’t gather inside.
Worsening numbers also mean that travel is now even more restricted without a 2-week quarantine (this may change, so check the state’s travel order). It’s another loss, but there’s hope that by this time next year we will be able to gather with our families and friends again.
Just as in April, it is important to get outside, particularly as it gets dark and we are more likely to hibernate, for our mental and physical health. It’s good to see each other, even at a distance, and we still have open walking trails, sidewalks, and the Carriage Lane. Send me your best ideas, and I’ll post them on my website!!
One idea just appeared in Cold Spring Park thanks to Newton 9th graders (Zoe Hong, Ellie Gish, Naomi Weitzman, Elliot Heywood, Edward Macklin, Sylvia Jacobs, Seth Korn, Josh Wolf)--a purely visual scavenger hunt. Use this document to find the clues & surprises.
In this time of giving, and giving thanks, I am going to give YOU Jerry Reilly’s ideas (and post) for creative ways to help others now (link here). There’s also the three Newton food banks (Newton, Centre Street and Arabic). And so much more.
I am thankful for you, so stay healthy, stay warm, mask up!
Almost every month I write constituents about a topic before the city