On Wednesday, September 14, the Charter Commission will be holding a public hearing and discussion panel on Area Councils. Area Councils are described in Article 9 of the Newton City Charter:
“It is the purpose of this article to encourage citizen involvement in government at the neighborhood level by permitting limited self-government through the establishment of neighborhood area councils as legal entities of the city government.”
The first Area Council was created in Newton Highlands in 1971. The next Area Council wasn’t created until 2011, when under the leadership of Ward 5’s Ward Councilor John Rice, Newton Upper Falls established its own Area Council. Councilor Rice then completed Area Council coverage of Ward 5 by supporting an Area Council effort for Waban. Newtonville was the next village to establish an Area Council, but since then, no other village has taken the plunge.
What do you think of Area Councils? For those who live in villages without one, do want one? For those who live in the Highlands, Upper Falls, Waban, and Newtonville, are you happy with your Area Council? Unhappy? What changes would you like to see in your Area Council? With the possible reduction of the City Council, are more Area Councils needed?