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5 Things You Missed at the Board of Aldermen: Upper Falls Greenway Land, Mall Renovation Approved

Aldermen also honored a number of community members during the Dec. 17 meeting, including the Newton North girls' volleyball team.

 

1. Lease approved for Upper Falls Greenway land

Following approval from the board's Programs & Services, Finance and Public Facilities committees, the full Board of Aldermen unanimously approved Monday night an item that would allow the city to enter into a 99-year lease with the MBTA for just under a mile of unused rail bed running parallel to Needham Street. 

This vote will help pave the way for the Upper Falls Greenway, a proposed bike and recreational path that runs along the railbed from National Lumber down to a scenic overlook of the Charles River.

According to the Upper Falls Greenway website, the next steps are to sign the lease with the MBTA, file with the Conservation Commission and design the trail. 

If all goes smoothly, the Greenway should be finished by the end of next summer, the website says. 

 

2. Mall renovation approved, with some changes

The board approved Monday night a special permit for some expansion plans at the Mall at Chestnut Hill. 

According to Planning Department documents, the mall is looking to (over a three-year period) add three restaurants with more than 50 seats. The mall is also looking to add patio seating and three new signs on the side of the mall facing Boylston Street.

After going through the Planning Department and Land Use Committee, a few items in the permit changed from the initial application. For example, the number of waived parking spaces was reduced from 300 to 111 and the proposed amount of outdoor seating space was reduced from 2,223 sq. ft. to 1,731 sq. ft. 

In addition, the plans for "pop-out" expansion of the Boylston Street side of the mall were eliminated and instead, the permit simply allows "physical improvements to the Boylston Street façade and the Boylston Street parking lot." 

The Land Use Committee approved this special permit on Dec. 11, 2012. 

 

3. Whole Foods expansion

Following Land Use Committee approval on Dec. 11, the full Board of Aldermen voted Monday night to approve a permit for expansion at the Whole Foods Market on Walnut Street.

According to minutes from the Dec. 11 Land Use Committee meeting, the store is planning to construct an 1,351-square-foot addition for new refrigeration facilities. The addition will be located to the east of the existing building.

 

4. New ladder truck

The board gave its approval Monday night for the city to bond $1 million for the purchase of a new ladder truck for the Newton Fire Department. The truck will replace Ladder #1. 

This item was previously approved by the Public Safety & Transportation and Finance committees.

 

5. Community members honored

Aldermen took a few moments Monday night to honor a few community members for their achievements and work in the city. 

The Newton North girls' volleyball team was honored with a citation for its outstanding 2012 season, which ended with a 19-1 record. After taking the Div. 1 sectional title, the girls went on to the state Div. 1 finals. 

Aldermen Brian Yates and Lisle Baker also took a moment to honor Newton-Wellesley's Dr. James Vernon, who is retiring from the hospital. Vernon helped design the hospital's Joan & James Vernon Cancer Center

The board, specifically Zoning & Planning Chair Marcia Johnson, also honored Seth Zeren, who has worked for two years as the city's a chief zoning code official. 

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