MEETING AGENDA – March 2023
Isabelle Albeck, Dinah Bodkin, Bill Bracken, Rena Getz, Sallee Lipshutz, Drake McCabe, Megan Meirav, Chris Pitts, Sumukh Tendulkar
Ex-Officio City Councilor: Bill Humphrey
When: Thursday, March 9, 2023, 7:30 pm
Where: Virtual Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 868 4752 0630
I. Opening (5’)
A. Confirmation of quorum
B. Issues from the Community
II. Substantive Topics (60’)
A. Discussion & possible letter to Newton Historical Commission of Strong Block Landmark consideration. NHC Meeting held Thursday, March 23, 2023.
B. Override Presentations (YES & NO Campaigns)
III. Zoning Updates (20’)
A. Discussion of ZAP February Meetings
B. Recap of joint meeting of Wellesley Select Board & Planning Board discussion of Wellesley Office Park 40R amendments
IV. Administrative Items (5’)
A. Review & approval of Meeting Minutes
B. Treasurer’s Report
D. End-of-year Reports
V. New Business (5’)
Please note: Agenda order and discussion length is at the President’s discretion.
Slide Decks presented:
*SB LM Process 03-09-23.pdf
Waban Area Council March Meeting Minutes
March 9th, 2023 7:30pm, Zoom
Waban Area Council
Drake McCabe, Christopher Pitts, Rena Getz, Isabelle Albeck, Bill Bracken, Sallee Lipshutz, Megan Meirav, Dinah Bodkin, Sumukh Tendulkar
Bill Humphrey, Andrea Downs, Deb Crossley, Tarik Lucas, Julia Malakie, Pam Wright
Jane Frantz, Martina Jackson, Frances Godine, Lisa Monahan, Jeremy Freudberg, Angelo Volandes, Ann Dolbear, MaryLee Belleville, Frank Dolbear JR, Les Schwab, Margie Arons-Barron, Timothy Leary, Jonathan Goldenburg, Aretha Delight Davis, John Mordes, Christine Dutt, Kerry Prasad, Marc Hershman, Linda Gelda
Issues From the Community
Jane Frantz started a discussion about a demolition permit for some specific properties. Rena Getz suggested that those demolitions may be getting administratively approved.
Strong Block Landmarking Process
Rena Getz noted that Councilor Humphrey, John Rice, Andrea Downs, and Deb Crossley had submitted the nomination paperwork for landmark consideration of the Strong Block. Rena Getz explained the process the Newton Historic Commission (NHC) follows for landmark determinations. Rena suggested that the WAC go out into the community to determine how Waban residents feel about the landmarking of the Strong Block and that the WAC should do a survey or petition to accomplish this.
Councilor Humphrey said that they had not yet had any discussions on landmarking other buildings besides the Strong Block and Waban Hall at this point.
Isabelle Albeck suggested a very simple email survey. Rena Getz explained that the process for creating a landmark report and holding a public meeting may be 4-6 months and that the WAC had time to do outreach.
Motion for Rena, Sallee, and Isabelle to create a subcommittee to draft a flier and survey to use in community outreach. Members present voted for, Sumukh abstained.
Vote YES Newton Override Presentation
Co-chairs Christine Dutt and Kerry Prasad presented in favor of the proposed override. The presentation included information about costs to taxpayers, proposition 2 and 1/2. The presentation shared a brief history of overrides in Newton as well as the other two ballot questions. Further slides showed where funds from the override would be allocated and the effect that passing or not passing the override would have on Newton Public Schools (NPS).
Vote No Newton Override Presentation
WAC Councilor, Sumukh Tendulkar gave a presentation against the proposed override. Sumukh claimed that the operational override would not address key problems facing NPS, that the budget deficit would still exist, and that the city has money to fund the deficit in the short term without cuts. Sumukh shared data from city financials as well as an NPS student HYA survey to support his points. Sumukh suggested a blue ribbon commission should be formed to address the problems with NPS.
Override Presentation Questions and Comments
Councilor Crossley explained the deficit problem is caused by proposition 2 and 1/2 and that the limits imposed by that law do not allow revenues to keep pace with the cost of doing business. Crossley thought the blue ribbon commission was a fine idea, but thought that it could be done in addition too, not instead of an override.
Jane Frantz spoke about the problems with using one time money to fund a budget deficit.
Sumukh spoke again about academic performance at NPS and compared AP stats to other school districts.
Chris Pitts brought up NPS losing students through declining enrollments and expresses support for a blue ribbon commission. Christine Dutt explained more about the trends around enrollment decline and shared excitement heard from fellow parents about Dr. Nolan joining NPS as superintendent.
Councilor Humphrey spoke more about the structural deficit and expressed a need for more proposed solutions around cuts or revenue increases.
More discussion ensued about potential cuts to NPS, and then discussion turned to the pending funding schedule and its effect on the structural deficit.
Wellesley Office Park Update
Rena explained that Josh Ostroff spoke at the Wellesley Planning & Select Board meeting on February 21st about the need to propose specific mitigation for traffic issues.
Rena mentioned that Wellesley has chosen to use the office park site to fulfill much of their zoning obligations under the MBTA communities Act. Rena also shared the schedule for upcoming meetings in Wellesley.