Happy New Year!!
I was waiting to say that until the country had passed several milestones--including the Georgia run-offs, election certification and the inauguration. Let's hope this year is healthier and easier than 2020.
In this update:
More "Park" in the Parkway
Zoning and Housing Discrimination
The Police Reform Task Force is close to issuing its recommendations to the mayor. Council will hear from them on February 3, at a committee meeting hosted by Public Safety and Transportation. To facilitate a thorough report and discussion with councilors, this meeting will be open, but will have no public comment. However, residents can email me or the council at our council emails (citycouncil@newtonmaDOTgov) To join the email list for Task Force updates, click here.
The city’s search for the next police chief continues. The job has been posted internally, statewide and nationally. The mayor hopes to hire a new chief by the end of March. PS&T just voted to extend the agreement with interim Chief Howard Mintz until the new chief is on board.
Like many, I was shocked and saddened by the tragic police shooting of a Newton resident in Newton Highlands this month. I feel terribly for Michael Conlon’s family and friends, and support efforts to improve mental health supports and services for all. I am glad that professionals in Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office are taking the lead on investigating this incident, and look forward to reviewing their findings.
More “Park” in the Parkway
Hammond Pond Parkway north of Route 9 functions more as a highway than as a road through one of Newton’s largest parks. The Department of Conservation and Recreation finally released plans (in the works since before Mishkan Tefila was sold to Boston College) to allow pedestrian access to parks on both sides of the road, and create safe, off-road biking.
By reducing lanes and adding crosswalks, the new design improves safety for drivers, too. The 12' wide multi use trail will allow walking and biking along the parkway, access to trails, and a safe crossing halfway down.
The long-term vision is to continue the trail along the Brookline section to Horace James Circle, and then eventually along DCR parkways all the way to VFW Parkway--real connectivity!
Despite worries heard at the meeting, the redesign should not increase traffic congestion. Slower roads have more vehicle capacity and fewer crashes.
DCR is taking public comment through Thursday, February 4. View the slideshow and comment here.
Zoning and Housing Discrimination Another study out this week on racism and housing pointed out that wealthy, predominantly white suburbs don’t fail fairness tests as often as more mixed areas. This analysis argues, I think correctly, that exclusionary zoning does the job instead: “...the most widespread and pernicious forms of housing discrimination are the subtle institutionalized racism embedded in systems like zoning”
While our intentions today may not be racist, “preserving” our current zoning doesn’t just continue to allow the destruction of modest homes for mansions, it effectively acts as a barrier to sharing the benefits of living in our great city with a more diverse population.
Funds for non-profits
The Feb. 1 deadline is fast approaching for local non-profits to apply for a grant from the Rebecca Pomroy Foundation. Organizations that strengthen the health, social support and educational opportunities available to girls, women and other residents in Newton can apply and learn more here.
Stay masked, stay safe, stay warm!
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Almost every month I write constituents about a topic before the city