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Five Things You Missed at the Board of Aldermen: Riverside Station Project and Newton North Closeout

A public hearing for the Riverside Station project will be held next month.

1. Riverside Station project public hearing

The Board of Aldermen approved Wednesday night a public hearing date for the Riverside Station project proposal. The hearing, which will be held by the Land Use Committee, will take place Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012.

The public hearing will consider a special permit/site plan approval for the construction of the mixed-use project, which includes a 225,000-square-foot office building, 20,000 square feet of retail space, 8,000 square feet of community space and a building containing 290 apartments. 

That same night, there will also be a public hearing to consider a change to the Riverside site's zoning map. If passed, the zoning map would reflect a mixed use 3/transit oriented district, which would allow the project to be built. 

In previous public hearings and community meetings, local residents have expressed serious concern about the possible traffic the Riverside project could create, especially for the residents who live in nearby neighborhoods and on Grove Street. Residents have also expressed concern about the impact the project would have on the already crowded Newton Public Schools. 

 

2. Final amount for Newton North approved -- under budget

Following a vote from the Finance Committee, the Board of Aldermen approved Wednesday night an amendment to the Newton North High School appropriation schedule, which reflected the final cost of the school building project.

According to Finance Committee Chairman Lenny Gentile, "the sooner we can close out the project, the sooner that we can make a loan payment on the last part of this project...that will result in reduced interest cost for the city."

In the end, the final cost for the school is $6 million less than what was initially passed for the project, Gentile said. That bottom line -- $191,526,232.70 -- includes $90,000 for a few other "relatively minor" items that still need to be completed at the school including netting for the baseball field, landscaping and a Greengineering classroom.

 

3. Solar panel project approved

During Wednesday night's meeting, the board approved an item that would allow the city to enter into a long-term lease with Ameresco Solar, Inc. Now that the lease is approved, the company will soon install solar panels on a number of Newton schools. 

 

4. Finance to reconsider cost for forestry services

Although the board's Finance Committee initially approved $75,000 to fund full-time salaries for forestry/tree services in the city, the item will be reconsidered at the Finance Committee meeting this Monday. 

According to Finance Committee Chairman Lenny Gentile, the Parks & Recreation Department "believes they have found two qualified candidates that they hope to get started as permanent employees."

As a result, the amount needed to the forestry positions will be less than the $75,000 initially approved. The aldermen agreed to allow the item to move back into the Finance Committee for reconsideration before a new amount is approved by the full board. 

 

5. Additional Planning Department positions approved

The board voted unanimously Wednesday night to transfer money from the current year's budget reserve to fund part-time salaries for the Planning Department. This money will help fund additional hours for part-time staffing that is needed to complete the Recreation Open Space Plan as well as other work on city planning projects. 

A total of $45,000 was approved to transfer in to the Planning Part Time Salaries account.

Note: All items listed above that were voted on by the full Board of Aldermen were approved 22-0, with two aldermen absent (Aldermen Amy Sangiolo and Marcia Johnson). 

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