Override and fun stuff

3/10/20232 min read


This is about the children.

Newton’s future is their inheritance--will we bequeath them rutted and unsafe roads? Crumbling schools? Large class sizes, fewer course choices and less help for students who need it? Fewer trees and unplayable fields?

Or will we step up--for about $400/household--and continue progress on all of these--plus good senior services and resilient, green municipal buildings?


We urgently need to fix our school buildings. While past overrides funded a new Angier, Cabot and Zervas, we have 15 elementary schools, mostly built between 1930-1960.

Countryside (above) has chronic flooding issues, has to pump its sewage uphill, has sump pumps running 24/7 to keep the storage area above water and more. If Northland finishes its construction, we will have more school children there. The modulars are too cold/hot (depending) and vastly out of date. If we pass the override for Countryside, we will also net $20 million, or about ⅓ of the cost to rebuild, from the state. If we don’t, Newton taxpayers will have to fund all of it. More information here. There is also a Countryside Community Forum Thursday, March 9 at 6 pm for residents to ask questions, make suggestions and get the latest on this project. Register to attend the Zoom here.

Franklin, built in 1938, this school was never designed for today’s educational practices. Space needs have forced the school to use the basement in unintended ways--for instance, the library is located below grade, where books are too close to moisture and mold is a constant issue. The music room is in the former bike storage room. Hallways are used for one-on-one and small group teaching. Most of the building systems are on their last legs. Repeated flooding in the kindergarten wing (temporary buildings from the 1950s) have meant emergency repairs regularly. Further details here.

Horace Mann--While the space is newly renovated, Horace Mann retains the constrained bones of a 1930s school. To meet state standards for classroom and other spaces, we need to make some improvements to meet state standards.

This is part of the operating override, because the ask is smaller. I have touched in earlier updates on the needs that the rest of the operating override will cover--continuing road improvements, school teachers that otherwise would be cut (40-60), fields and courts, trees, and more. You can investigate the rest here.

I support this override, all three questions, to sustain our community and its infrastructure now and in the future.


Historic preservation--Waban Hall, the brick office/retail building that houses Starbucks on Wyman Street in Waban and one of the oldest structures in the village, is up for landmark status at the April 27 meeting of the Newton Historic Commission. I support this; Waban Hall and the nearby Strong Building (on Beacon) are what makes Waban unique.

Upper Falls Loop—the elves of Upper Falls have been busy, putting up green & white way finding tokens to mark a trail linking six UF parks/conservation areas via off-road trails and some sidewalks, incorporating bits of Needham in the process. Look for a start at Echo Bridge and enjoy the views and fresh air.