Wondering while wandering around Auburndale

I frequently walk around my part of Auburndale, not listening to music and not on my phone, with no particular purpose other than exercise. My physical rambling leads to mental rambling:

1. Given the City’s need for publicly accessible open space (not to mention developers’ interest in Newton land), is it time to revisit the potential of the publicly owned lots on Pine Street near River Street? The 10 fenced-in acres of contaminated land were an unregulated dump for years. They are currently used, based on visible trash, for night-time drinking parties. Some past info at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/newton/2009/07/10/pine-streets-overgrown-green-spaces-a-quick-bit-of-history/

2. Why do some Newton villages have elected Area Councils under the City charter, but the rest do not? What are the pros and cons experienced by Newton Highlands, Newton Upper Falls, Newtonville and Waban which have Area Councils? If it wanted to, could an organization like the Auburndale Community Association morph into an Area Council? Why would that be a good or bad move?

3. How can Newton non-profits partner with the City to create affordable housing acceptable to existing neighborhoods? What can we learn from other projects, such as community land trusts or the Charlesview development in Allston, a joint effort of three congregations which recently built a mixed use, mixed-income complex, including a community center?

Though I have lived in Auburndale since 1985, until I retired frequent travel for work limited my community involvement. It has been a great pleasure getting to know more of my neighbors and becoming more familiar with our City government. I encourage everyone to get involved, even if only to ask questions. Voting is only one part of civic life.


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Sallee Lipshutz

Hi Phil: Thanks for sharing your peripatetic thoughts with us. They lead to great questions. I have lots of info on your second question about Area Councils in Newton, since I have served as the President of the Waban Area Council since its formation on Jan. 1, 2014 and, before that, for several years as leader and one of the early founders of that Council. (Chris Steele and Maureen Reilly-Meagher being the other moving forces, along with Alderman, now City Councilor, John Rice.) The City Charter that is now being reviewed was accepted by the Newton electorate in 1971. That revision included a new provision for the creation of Neighborhood Area Councils. The Councils are to be elected by the neighborhood (self-defined), after 20% of the registered voters in the self-described catchment area had signed a petition, and had their signatures verified, asking for the Board of Aldermen (now City Council) to recognize such a neighborhood Council for that area. Sometime shortly thereafter, the Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council was born and has been around for about 40 years. It was not until Mayor Warren expressed support for more Area Councils, that Upper Falls, Newtonville and Waban came online. I understand from an address given by Mayor Warren that there are now a couple of other Area Councils laboring to gather verified signatures of 20% of their area’s voters so that they may represent their constituents. Each Council may have up to nine elected members and must abide by the… Read more »