Read City Councilor Candidates’ Positions on Key Environmental Issues

Green Newton recently asked Newton City Council candidates to answer a set of 15 questions on environmental issues as they relate not only to the day to day operations and decision-making of Newton’s municipal government, but as the components of a larger vision that will take Newton forward in response to a planetary challenge that has growing urgency.

The following candidates have responded to the questionnaire and more will be added as they are received:

Susan Albright, Ward 2
Jake Auchincloss, Ward 2
Richard Blazar, Ward 6
Nicole Castillo, Ward 1
Debra Crossley, Ward 5
Andreae Downs, Ward 5
Becky Grossman, Ward 7
Bradon Houston, Ward 2 (Added 10/16)
Andrea Kelley, Ward 3
Alison Leary, Ward 1
Rick Lipof, Ward 8
Brenda Noel, Ward 6

(Please click on a heading to link to the corresponding responses or scroll down to the complete listing of responses.)

1. CLIMATE CHANGE AND NEWTON

What is your perspective on the urgency of environmental issues and climate change, and how would your perspective shape your priorities and policy decisions as a member of the City Council?

2. 100% RENEWABLE NEWTON

135 mayors have already committed to 100% renewable energy to end dependence on fossil fuels. The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution to support a goal of 100% clean and renewable energy in cities nationwide by 2035.

As a City Councilor, how would you commit to an ambitious goal of 100% renewable municipal, residential and commercial energy?

3. AGGREGATION AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

In a city-managed community-wide contract of aggregated energy, we can provide a default level of “clean” electricity that is higher than the 12% Class 1, locally sourced (New England) renewable energy the state currently requires utilities to provide. Brookline launched their aggregation contract this past summer with 37% of Class 1 renewable energy as their default number. Higher levels of clean energy would add a few dollars to people’s monthly electric bill. These contracts allow opt out and opt up options.

As a City Council member, would you make Newton a leader with a significant commitment to Class 1 renewable electricity as a default% in an aggregation contract?

4. GAS PIPELINE LEAKS

Newton has over 500 unrepaired gas leaks, a significant source of the greenhouse gas methane. The gas leaks have been killing our trees, and create explosion risks and air pollution. National Grid charges ratepayers for the lost gas. The Newton Public Works Department is sharing information with National Grid in hopes of coordinating scheduled road, water and sewer projects with gas pipeline replacement and leak repairs.

How will you work to solve this problem without committing Newton residents to replacement of all gas lines and a continued dependence on fossil fuels for heating, cooking, drying clothes, etc.? How might the City Council incentivize real alternatives to fossil fuels for heating homes and businesses in Newton?

5. WASTE MANAGEMENT AND ZERO WASTE

In May 2016, the Newton City Council passed a budget resolution requesting that the DPW develop a long range plan to improve the City’s recycling rate and reduce trash tonnage. This included a “Zero Waste” strategy that aims at reducing consumption, encouraging re-use of materials and maximizing recycling. Cities such as San Francisco and Cambridge have developed such zero waste plans.

What are your thoughts on developing a strong zero waste strategy for Newton?

6. EXPANDED WASTE COLLECTION

The City’s solid waste and single stream recycling contract with Waste Management ends on June 30th 2020. Some apartment complexes and condos are serviced by the City and some are not. In FY17, the City will spend $152,055 to provide waste and recycling services to 36 apartment/condo buildings. More than 100 apartment and condo complexes are not serviced by the City. Would you support expanding recycling services to apartment complexes and condos?

7. SMART DEVELOPMENT

Do you support building dense housing and commercial developments like Washington Place in village centers that are served well by mass transit as a way to preserve green space?

8. ZONING

The mission of revising our zoning regulations is currently underway. What are your thoughts on preservation, conservation and requirements for new construction? Where would “net zero” fit into the picture?

9. TRANSPORTATION AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION

Transportation is one of the largest contributors to Newton’s greenhouse gas emissions. Newton has more cars per household (1.7) than any city (>50,000 residents) in the Commonwealth. Reducing single occupancy gasoline or diesel vehicle travel in and through Newton would provide cleaner air, less congestion, and reduce climate impact. Do you support policies like the ones below to reduce single occupancy gasoline or diesel use in Newton and how would you prioritize?

10. MUNICIPAL SOLAR

Do you support expanded use of solar energy in Newton?

11. DIVESTMENT

Newton currently puts city money in Citizens Bank, TD Bank, Bank of America and UBS Trust, all institutions that fund oil and gas pipelines like Dakota Access through loans to fossil fuel energy companies.

Would you support divestment from these funds?

12. CLIMATE ADAPTATION AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE

No matter how much we do to transition to clean renewable energy, Newton’s residents will not escape the predicted effects of climate change such as torrential rains, flooding, drought, extended heat waves, and more. Many low income families are especially vulnerable to these conditions.

What role should the city government play in adaptation and emergency response and where should the financial resources come from to effectively plan for and manage response? How do you balance short term vs. long term cost regarding the impact of climate change?

13. INVESTING IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Newton has taken advantage of energy efficiency programs to reduce energy costs and save millions in our public buildings, and to modestly increase the amount of solar energy on our city property, but has not sufficiently committed to taking the savings and investing them in renewable energy programs.

As a member of the City Council, how would you support and prioritize bold solutions for long-term resource management over short-term cost? What new programs, investments, subsidies and incentives would you propose to more efficiently conserve and more rapidly transition to renewable energy?

14. ENERGY ACTION PLAN

In 2005, the Newton Citizens Commission on Energy, The Public Building Dept and the Planning and Development Department, created the Newton Energy Action Plan. However, the City Council did not formally adopt this plan and to date has not been held accountable for its implementation.

Would you support the development and implementation of an Energy Action Plan?

15. GREEN SPACE EXPANSION, MANAGEMENT AND PRESERVATION

Please share your ideas about how to best ensure that Newton maintains and grows its commitment to green space.

Questionnaire Responses

1. CLIMATE CHANGE AND NEWTON
What is your perspective on the urgency of environmental issues and climate change, and how would your perspective shape your priorities and policy decisions as a member of the City Council?

ALBRIGHT:  So many decisions made by the Public Facilities Committee and ultimately the City Council must be guided by the urgency of climate change.   The environmental issue undergirds many other decisions we must make.  Increasing our supply of housing is one of my top priorities and in fact the city has decided to create some on its own.  I hope that we will show our leadership in this area by making that project as close to net zero as possible, if not 100%.   As a community, we must also face facts on the effects of urban sprawl on the environment.   I hope that as a community we can take our lead from groups like the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club in endorsing transit oriented multi-family housing in appropriate village centers.  And – if the transit isn’t up to our standards for effective transit  – get behind a campaign to force Governor Baker to make that system, the T, one that works for us.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Climate change is the existential challenge – and opportunity – of our era. Given the hostility of the Trump administration to even acknowledging basic science, it is incumbent upon states and cities to address climate change ourselves. We must govern with a mindset of sustainability.

BLAZAR:  Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time, and protecting the environment has long been a priority of mine. I will continue to support policies that protect our environment and slow climate change both in my role as a City Councilor and in my life generally.

CASTILLO: Given the alarming facts about the effects of climate change on people and animals, promoting environmental justice is among my top priorities – particularly since President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The undeniable urgency of this issue would compel me to support current efforts and initiate new efforts to combat climate change; improve and increase our city’s reliance on renewable energy; ensure the energy efficiency of all new construction meeting the standards of LEED certification or better; increase accessibility to public transportation; and support developments that promote more walkable and bikeable streets that reduce our residents’ reliance on personal vehicles.

CROSSLEY:  It is extremely urgent – at this point, we cannot stop the horrible effects that people across the globe will suffer – are suffering, as a result of the overall denial and inertia of leaders ignoring this problem. It is real. My hope is that we can avoid the fate of Easter Island – by coming together now.

But then – just at this moment I see that Pruitt intends to gut Obama’s clean energy plan, and the Republican ‘tax reform’ bill includes opening up drilling in the Alaska winderness. I wrote this for the Sierra club questionnaire:

I have been promoting energy and waste reduction personally and professionally since 1974, when I worked for a small company in Newton called Energyworks, years before I moved here. Then, President Carter had a vision for weaning the U.S. from fossil fuels by both seeding small energy efficiency businesses and eliminating waste and improving efficiency through public/private regulatory agreements with the nation’s public utilities, who would field the efforts. In the mid 70s I oversaw a US DOE contract to develop instructional materials and field manuals for the (RCS) Residential Conservation Service Program. That was the impetus for what we now call the MassSAVE program, and others like it across the country. Some understood then, that our country’s addiction to fossil fuels must be cured. As a student of architecture at the time, these experiences shaped my approach to building and community design and stewardship. It is imperative that people become better stewards of both the natural and built environments that sustain and shelter us.

As a City Councilor now for eight years, the basic principles of sustainability guide my initiatives and decisions. It has always been that good stewardship must begin at the local level, and become core to how we live. It is tragic that instead of electing a new administration that would be ready to take a strong lead to preserve and conserve resources, we find ourselves on defense, hoping other countries can lead the way, reliant on local initiatives. We must continue and redouble our local work – And work for change in 2018.

But the inertia we face is nothing new. Most in the 1970s did not have the will or the wisdom to invest in efficiency or conservation efforts. Carter was voted out of office in part – because he had a fireside chat asking people to lower their thermostats and put on a sweater!

Daniel Yergin protested “saving energy is not about doing without – it is about doing without waste”. It was like screaming into the ocean winds. We knew then we had a big, big problem unfolding, that fossil fuels are a finite resource, and dirty. And we lost ground badly with successive energy hungry administrations fueling greedy oil giants.

Are we ready now?

I served for eight years on the Newton Energy Commission. Initially I felt like re-inventing the wheel, but the 2005 Energy Action Plan we drafted was an important first step for Newton. It became part of Newton’s Comprehensive plan adopted in 2007, and several actions: securing the position of Energy Officer (now Energy Project Manager) in Public Buildings, establishing an energy investment fund that protects grants and rebates from energy efficiencies for investment in energy efficiency projects and adopting the fifth criterion of our special permit process requiring developers make “a significant contribution to the efficient use of natural resources and energy”. These actions have made a difference – and I have fought to make sure they are remembered and improved upon.

Now it is time for a new and more aggressive plan – even while we strive to act within limited resources.

DOWNS:  Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the world. At the local level, we need to pursue policies that both mitigate and adapt to anticipated changes in climate.

It is high time Newton established some city-wide climate goals for all its sectors. From these climate goals, Newton can build supportive policies and infrastructure, much as Cambridge has done.

GROSSMAN:  We must take steps to combat global climate change now. At a time when our nation’s leader has pulled us out of the Paris climate accord, it is imperative that cities and towns show leadership, acting on our own to do what we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and commit to the tough choices that will allow us to save our planet. We cannot sit on our hands while sea levels rise and increasingly severe weather events destroy entire communities and threaten the most vulnerable among us.

As City Councilor, I will look for common-sense ways to commit Newton to taking meaningful action that will lead to proven results. I will evaluate proposals on the basis of tangible, measurable impact, and look for best practices in other municipalities that we can learn from and apply here in Newton. I will support taking aggressive action to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from city activities, including all the buildings and vehicles operated by the city. I will work to make sure that all of the solutions we adopt — including solar panels, electric vehicles, weatherization, and other measures — provide the maximum amount of greenhouse gas reduction for each dollar of city money we spend.

HOUSTON:  Sadly, we have already put this planet on a path to significant aggregate global warming in the coming century. I would love to say that we could reverse this, but the reality is, it is going to happen. The question is not if it will happen, but instead how bad will it be, and how we can help mitigate it. As sea levels rise hundreds of millions of people will be displaced and regional climate changes will threaten species, our food supply and myriad other critical aspects of our ecosystem. This situation transcends borders and is literally the most critical problem that we as a people and planet face. I have dedicated my professional career to renewable energy and the environment, as I develop large scale wind and solar projects. Over the last 15 years, I have been directly involved in the development and construction of projects that will offset tens of millions of tons of CO2 over their lifetimes. Climate change, and how to mitigate it, is something that I deal with professionally every day. This has given me a unique perspective on what we can do, but far more importantly, how to do it. It is one thing for a candidate to say they “favor more green energy”, but it is entirely another thing to say I know what to do, how to get it done and still save the City and residents money.

KELLEY:  Environmental issues and climate change ARE urgent matters for us. The City Council has a role in showing leadership and behavior-modeling, through a range of policies that can show how a municipality can take a pro-active and multi-pronged approach. The wide range of matters that can be highlighted through policy-making and citizen outreach include: reducing greenhouse gases in public facilities and vehicles, installing ground and roof-top solar panels, exploring how Newton may host wind generation on selected site, reducing waste at the source, maintaining our street tree canopy, and how compact, smart-growth near public transit can benefit the environment are but a handful of the arenas the Council can show leadership on.

LEARY:  Climate change is an immediate threat to the health and wellbeing of our planet as we know it. It is increasingly urgent that cities and towns take the lead on climate action as there is so much stagnation and inaction at the state and federal level. Policies that focus on environmental sustainability have always been a priority for me and will continue to be if I am fortunate to be elected for a 3rd term.

LIPOF:  Climate change is real and should be at the forefront of any decisions made by city, state or federally elected governments. As we construct new and renovate or existing city buildings, our policies should demand sustainability and energy efficiency. Newton must be a partner in this global initiative.

NOEL:  Climate change is clear and present danger to our health and well-being and the sustainable future of our planet.  We all are being negatively impacted by climate change, and as a social worker, I am acutely aware of the disproportionate impact climate change has on poor and disenfranchised communities. Newton is part of a larger community and has the political will and access to the research and best practices to be a leader on this issue. As a city Councilor I will support and implement policies that decelerate climate change and focus on environmental sustainability.

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2. 100% RENEWABLE NEWTON
135 mayors have already committed to 100% renewable energy to end dependence on fossil fuels. The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution to support a goal of 100% clean and renewable energy in cities nationwide by 2035.
As a City Councilor, how would you commit to an ambitious goal of 100% renewable municipal, residential and commercial energy?

ALBRIGHT:  A large number of cities have pledged to have 100% renewable energy by 2035 and others by 2050. The first step is to create the plan with costs. We need a carefully planned pathway to accomplish this goal. There are at least two tools that can help with this; 1. “The Deep Carbon Reduction Planning Framework” used by many cities or 2. The “City Performance Tool” developed by Siemens. I’m sure there are others as well. While we have talented staff working on this we need an experienced or consultant assistance to create a comprehensive plan that links together all our efforts from multiple departments, collects and studies data, creates cost estimates and moves us forward in a planful way and evaluates our progress with adjustments as needed.

I want to be clear that even getting to 100% by 2050 will be a challenge. Our buildings are heated with natural gas (some still with oil). Changing this will be expensive. I look forward to getting us to the point where we have the plan and costs I mentioned above so that we can initiate the conversation within Newton citizenry to help find the will to make this goal happen. Through our municipal aggregation work we can increase the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy. I will work with the new Mayor and encourage her or him to strengthen our efforts in retrofitting existing buildings and building new energy net zero buildings – a challenge on its own. I will encourage the Mayor to switch to an electric fleet of cars.

AUCHINCLOSS:  The supply must be there. If renewable sources of energy are available in sufficient quantity to economically meet the demands of the city, then we should be aggressive in pursuing that goal. But we should not over-promise and then under-deliver based on market and technical limitations that are beyond the scope of a single city.

BLAZAR:  As a City Councilor, I would commit enthusiastically to a goal of 100% renewable municipal, residential and commercial energy. Obviously this cannot be done overnight, but we have to get started immediately.

CASTILLO:  As City Councilor, I would commit to an ambitious goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035 by supporting the following:

  • programs that help residents and businesses to connect with clean energy options like solar and offshore wind.
  • dense, transit-oriented developments that promote walking, biking, and the use of public mass transit.
    statewide programs and public policies that aim achieving 100% renewable energy.
  • energy efficient upgrades in municipal buildings like LED lighting, high efficiency cooling and heating systems, and weatherizing buildings.
  • and require that all newly acquired municipal vehicles are electric and/or fuel-efficient.

CROSSLEY:  Of course I want to see Newton’s power to be generated using 100% clean energy!

But, the question is – how do we get there? Current infrastructure, current technology and current resources all present severe constraints. I will commit to work to develop and implement a robust strategic plan that identifies what we can do and the resources it will take to get to 100%. Then I will argue to prioritize those resources. In my view, politicians who make empty promises are of no value. The temperature is rising and the floods are coming. We need to get to work.

This is not a goal that city Council can achieve on its own – the move to clean energy requires ALL of us to make individual as well as public commitments and actions. It requires all of us to invest in reducing energy wasted by fixing leaky buildings and driving more efficient – and electric vehicles. It requires all of us to pony up resources to first transition to electricity and then provide clean energy to power it.

It is going to cost us all a great deal to get there. Are we in this together?

DOWNS:  We need to plan carefully to make this happen; while the urgency is real, change is slow even with the best of intentions. We can do several of the things this survey mentions below and still not be at 100% renewable by 2035. But we can and should do better.

GROSSMAN:  I support moving Newton towards 100% renewable energy. As City Councilor, I would work with our new mayor, my colleagues on the Council, and the Energy Commission to arrive at the right target timeline for Newton to meet this goal (quite possibly 2035), and to update our 2005 Energy Action Plan as to how we can get there. Meeting a 100% renewable goal will mean reducing our energy use, increasing our energy efficiency, and addressing how we generate energy.

Some actions I would consider include: converting Newton’s fleet of non-emergency vehicles to hybrid and/or electric vehicles, beginning with purchases of new vehicles; retrofitting municipal buildings to make them more energy efficient and using the footprint of municipal spaces to generate renewable energy, such as installing solar panels or green roofs; installing smart traffic signals to help reduce automobile emissions; installing charging stations across the city for electric vehicles; encouraging solar panel installations on residents’ homes and businesses’ roofs; encouraging residents to take advantage of government programs offering in-home energy assessments; and increasing emphasis on the energy efficiency of proposed development projects.

HOUSTON:  I have a very clearly detailed plan.  The most critical tool that I will utilize, is the new 2018 Massachusetts SMART program, which is basically the holy grail of renewable energy.  This will allow us to bring renewable energy from the western part of the state to easily get the City to 100%.  (Think of a solar project on a landfill in Chicopee for instance)  Our problem in Newton, is that we have very little open space on which to develop solar and we need to preserve all of it anyway.  Rooftops are great and we should do that, but there is not enough “compatible” rooftop space in Newton to get us anywhere near our objectives.  Different aspects of the new regulations allow the City to secure its power at a discount, so we can cost effectively get the City to 100% renewable within 3 years.  Residential power supply is a bit more complicated, as MA is a deregulated market, and each customer can select their own power supply.  Briefly, we can use community aggregation to default likely 50-70% of residential customers into a program that contains some percentage of green energy.  It is our job as city councilors to make sure that that percentage is as high as possible – I would advocate for 100%, but likely that amount would be less than 100% based on the competitive supplier we contract with.  I would also utilize community solar. This would be 100% renewable and we can promote this as a 100% green option that residential customers can select through the city.  Residents would simply opt out of the community aggregation to community solar to get themselves to 100% green.  I would help to educate and promote this, as it can be a bit daunting to those not familiar with power markets.  Additionally, if we can assist low income residents to sign up, we can provide them with significant discounts on their power, again utilizing the new SMART program.  The reality is that we can get some customers in under community aggregation at some percentage below 100% renewable, some in under community solar at 100%, and there will be some percentage of people that will absolutely refuse to switch, as is their right, even though they will be saving money.  I would estimate we should be able to easily get our aggregate residential renewable percentage to 60% without much effort, with a realistic target over the next 5 years of 80-85%.  Commercial is a bit easier as dollars drive virtually all decisions, so a discounted renewable energy product through the SMART program should sell itself to larger users.  We just need to help educate and promote with the small businesses, much as we would with residential customers.

KELLEY:  This is a great goal, and what we should be aiming for. Progress, one step forward at a time, is the way I see us ultimately attaining clean and renewable energy.  The 2035 deadline may be ambitious, let’s keep aiming there and I’m on board!

LEARY:  I signed onto the resolution that sets a goal of transitioning the City of Newton to all renewable energy in 10 years. I think it is important to set a high bar but I also think it’s important to have some realistic projections based on reliable data. We should be asking ourselves how realistic is this goal and are we doing all the right things to reach such an ambitious goal? If we are including the transportation sector I doubt we can get there in 10 years. Are we including the schools? They are more energy efficient but are getting bigger and using significantly more energy. The new schools are not net zero buildings.

I hope that by docketing this resolution it will lead to a in depth discussion which includes relevant facts about our present consumption. We need a thoughtful, detailed plan. This is a critically important discussion for the Council to have.

LIPOF:  We must make the pledge and then detail the path to successfully attaining 100% clean and renewable. We will be one of many in this new endeavor thus it is important to share information and ideas across other municipalities as we all work together toward this goal.

NOEL:  Full disclosure- I am not an environmental scientist, but when faced with a challenge such as climate change I look to best practices, and rely on data and research to make my decisions.  As I understand it – we cannot afford to not act on this. The city council signed on to a 10-year resolution to transition to 100% renewable energy- this is a resolution I would support.  The challenge is to convince key stakeholders that the upfront costs will be far less expensive than the long-term costs.  We have a very smart constituency in Newton.  I would draw on the expertise in the community and engage the community on this effort to move to 100% renewables.  Engagement results in community buy-in and to implement this type of policy we need to educate everyone on the urgency and get 100% buy-in from the community.

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3. AGGREGATION AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
In a city-managed community-wide contract of aggregated energy, we can provide a default level of “clean” electricity that is higher than the 12% Class 1, locally sourced (New England) renewable energy the state currently requires utilities to provide. Brookline launched their aggregation contract this past summer with 37% of Class 1 renewable energy as their default number. Higher levels of clean energy would add a few dollars to people’s monthly electric bill. These contracts allow opt out and opt up options.

As a City Council member, would you make Newton a leader with a significant commitment to Class 1 renewable electricity as a default% in an aggregation contract?

ALBRIGHT:  Brookline has set an appropriate bar for Newton as it meets the states 12% renewable requirement and added to that 25% on its own initiative. Through our aggregation efforts we have hired a power broker who is guiding us through the process to develop a proposal for the city and its citizens. I look forward to seeing the developing plan later in the month. If it is good for Newton and good for the environment I will support this plan and help sell it to our citizens.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Yes.

BLAZAR:  Yes, I would support Newton’s attempts to make a significant commitment to Class 1 renewable energy as a default % in an aggregation contract, as long as residents had opt out and opt up options.

CASTILLO:  Yes.

CROSSLEY:  Brookline’s default number is 25% NOT 37%.
Added to 12% required by the state, the total locally sourced renewable energy contribution to Brookline’s power is 37%, but that is very different, and important to clarify.

Yes.

Our goal is to seek the maximum amount of clean renewable energy to generate power for Newton’s ratepayers. But – at a cost that will secure the highest participation in the program. This means we seek to offer a package of options that will result in the highest level of clean energy purchasing, before folks will opt out of the program. We must provide an Opt Out, and we must educate the ratepayers to understand exactly what this means. We will offer opt in opportunities for people who can afford to pay more for up to 100% clean energy sourced power – and will advocate for this. We will be discussing other options

I have an “unfair” advantage here as I serve on the working group with Sustainability Director Ann Berwick, Energy Project Manager Bill Ferguson, two members of the Energy Commission and others, as we are developing the program. It is very early to be asking this question; Council members will have a first look program options on October 18 in Public Facilities, which I chair.

The program will be called Newton Power Choice. Our broker/ consultant is Peregrine Energy Group who will join us that evening and lay out the range of decisions we must make, options we have, likely impacts – and what the public process and education campaign will look like prior to making those decisions.

Also, know that Newton purchases its municipal electricity as a separate contract. Currrently Newton’s electricity is 25% locally sourced clean renewable energy.

DOWNS:  I am very interested in advancing Newton’s foray into aggregated renewable energy purchases, and doing so in a way that makes it possible also for those on fixed or limited incomes to participate.

GROSSMAN:  I’m very interested in exploring this and learning more to evaluate whether green municipal aggregation is right for Newton. Undoubtedly, finding ways to access higher levels of clean energy in municipal, commercial, and residential settings is imperative. However, I’m also very sensitive to the reality that many of our residents are struggling to make ends meet and are barely hanging on to the ability to stay in Newton financially. In order to come to a decision on this, I’d need to understand the dollars and cents involved on a typical electric bill and ensure that we’ve provided ample time and opportunity for feedback from our residents.

If Newton is to implement an aggregation contract, I’d want to make sure we provide our residents clear, concise, and direct information setting forth their options, and ensure that the process of opting-out or opting-up is simple and straightforward.

HOUSTON:  Yes, please see my above answer to question 2 as I detail exactly what to do to maximize the percentage of green energy available to Newton residents, businesses and the City.  We also need to promote community solar for those looking for 100% green and for those low income residents for whom we can help save significant money.

KELLEY:  While the underlying intention of this question is clear in terms of renewable electricity as a goal, some of the numbers listed may be off as I learn more about aggregation. Thanks to Green Newton, 350.org, Mothers Out Front and Kay Khan for helping me in my learning curve. Nonethless, I think this is a terrific goal, and believe the City can set a standard by initially choosing aggregation for municipal electricity, while giving residents the choice to opt in or out.  While a few dollars a month toward clean energy is a worthwhile choice for many people, it’s unfeasible for some that struggle to balance their household budgets, especially for housing and utility costs. While I applaud this initiative, I understand that 100% compliance is unlikely in the short term. Overtime we will hopefully see more and more residents choosing to participate as well.

LEARY:  I support municipal aggregation of electricity. This leverages our collective buying power to purchase electricity cost-effectively and accelerates Newton’s transition to clean, renewable electricity (my understanding is that Brookline’s default number is 25% not 37%). There is a working group that includes the participation of Sustainability Director Ann Berwick and Energy Project Manager Bill Ferguson among others who are developing the program. We are fortunate to have talented people working on this. I will follow their work closely and pay attention to their recommendations.

LIPOF:  I would need to investigate this further but it sounds like a reasonable program, especially because it gives people the choice to opt out.

NOEL:  Yes- we need to look at this as a city wide issue.

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4. GAS PIPELINE LEAKS
Newton has over 500 unrepaired gas leaks, a significant source of the greenhouse gas methane. The gas leaks have been killing our trees, and create explosion risks and air pollution. National Grid charges ratepayers for the lost gas. The Newton Public Works Department is sharing information with National Grid in hopes of coordinating scheduled road, water and sewer projects with gas pipeline replacement and leak repairs.

How will you work to solve this problem without committing Newton residents to replacement of all gas lines and a continued dependence on fossil fuels for heating, cooking, drying clothes, etc.? How might the City Council incentivize real alternatives to fossil fuels for heating homes and businesses in Newton?

ALBRIGHT:  The Public Facilities Committee, of which I am the Vice Chair, just approved a resolution to support state legislation, specifically H.2683/S.1845 An Act Relative to Protecting Consumers of Gas and Electricity from Paying for Leaked And Unaccounted for Gas. Mothers Out Front brought this to our committee and we wholeheartedly supported it and sent it on to the full Council.

There are federal incentives for building energy efficient homes. Newton can provide consumer information regarding these programs.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Mothers out Front has done important work towards this objective. State legislation is required to make utilities more accountable for leaks, which I would support. I would also support stricter city ordinances about damage repayments, although the utilities may not abide them.

BLAZAR:  The City must continue to work with National Grid to fix the leaks. The leaks are a safety issue, as well as an environmental and cost issue. As a Ward Councilor I have been trying to get National Grid to fix these leaks for years. Moving forward, Newton should explore further incentives to encourage households to switch to renewable energy sources for home heating and other home energy needs. Some of these technologies include rooftop solar panels, solar water heaters, biomass boilers and geothermal heat pumps. I would support incentivizing the adoption of such technologies.

CASTILLO:  Newton has made progress in the last year toward repairing gas leaks and reducing methane emissions throughout the city. I support the new regulations requiring the repair of super-emitters as well as the increased communication between utility companies and the city, and eagerly await the results of the pilot program conducted in collaboration with Sierra Club to locate the super-emitters.

Additionally, I support all efforts to encourage Newton residents and businesses to invest in renewable energy over fossil fuels. To this end, I support greater education for homeowners on the various incentives available for using solar energy including state and federal tax incentives, sales and property tax incentives, state-financed loans for solar installation, as well as education on the new Solar Mass Renewable Target program (SMART) to be rolled out in January 2018.

CROSSLEY:  I am working to solve this problem by using my voice and our power as a city government in both supporting our legislators’ attempts to further regulate the gas utilities, supporting Mothers Out Front and the Gas Leaks Allies and testifying at the DPU to enact stronger rules requiring the gas utilities to coordinate infrastructure repair and replacement as needed to [sic]

“… without committing Newton residents to replacement of all gas lines and a continued dependence on fossil fuels for heating, cooking, drying clothes, etc.? How might the City Council incentivize real alternatives to fossil fuels for heating homes and businesses in Newton?”

I don’t see this is the right question for the City Council.

DOWNS:  As part of the special permit process and the stretch building code, Newton is already reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for new construction everywhere in the city. This process on private property will be necessarily incremental. Newton is also pursuing high-performance in all municipal buildings as they are renovated or replaced. We can put more emphasis on retrofitting our current public buildings. We can also continue to educate our residents about energy-wise investments that can save them both money and energy.

GROSSMAN:  This is a serious problem that we need to deal with now. We need to do our best to reduce the methane we’re emitting into our community and our planet while simultaneously setting out a clear plan to get ourselves off natural gas. I’d support DPW’s efforts to coordinate scheduled road, water and sewer projects with gas pipeline replacement and leak repairs; it also makes sense to me to prioritize repairing the “super-emitters,” which are the small handful of leaks that are responsible for 50% of the gas lost, as noted in a March 13, 2017 Newton TAB article.

We also need to look for ways to share in the cost of fixing our major gas leaks with the utilities, through statewide legislation if necessary. The same TAB article cited above references a study done by Senator Ed Markey, which found that laws limiting the amount companies can charge customers for lost gas in Texas resulted in gas leak reductions of 55% between 2010 – 2012, while only 4% of leak prone lines were fixed in Massachusetts over that same time period.

Solving this problem without committing Newton to decades of dependence on fossil fuels will require a clear plan with a timeline of action steps from our new mayor, City Council, Energy Commission, and experts in this field. Working together, I’m confident Newton can take control of its own destiny and be a leader in moving away from natural gas.

HOUSTON:  The gas leak problem is compounded by the economic calculation utilized by Nat Grid, which is approved by the MA Public Utility Commission. We need to work with the PUC to see if we can change the equation, and most simply by adding a value for the gas released which as you know if far more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. The gas has a value set by the PUC and it is rate based. Nat Grid fixes what makes economic sense based on what costs they can and can not pass along to customers. If the gas is more “valuable”, by placing a greenhouse gas penalty on it, they will fix more leaks. They will likely never fix all of them, but by changing the equation it will make economic sense to fix more of them, and the worst ones too.

Removing people from gas for heating, cooking, drying… would mean moving existing homes over to electric. This is very complicated for two reasons. One – many houses would need to be rewired to include significantly more 30, 40, 50 or even 60 amp circuits. Additionally, stoves, furnaces, water heaters would all need to be replaced. I would imagine that a full conversion would cost an average homeowner in the neighborhood of $50k or more, which is the beyond the means of many. Secondly, electric in New England is not on aggregate greener than gas for heating, cooking and drying. Ignoring for the moment the 5% gas industry leak loss and the disproportionate affect that has on greenhouse gas concentration, our generation mix in New England is about 50% gas, 10% coal and hydro, 30% nuclear and 10% green. This means, that if we wanted all electric for heating, cooking, drying, we need to burn gas to generate electricity. The associated power plant inefficiencies and power line losses actually generate more CO2 than plumbing the gas directly to a house to be burned on site in a furnace. That being said, if we are able to up our percentage of green energy that allows electric to then become the far greener option. We can and should look to outline a plan to investigate how we can promote more electric for new construction, if and only if, we can commit to more a far higher percentage of green energy, which I outlined above.

KELLEY:  Thanks to the coalition building amongst several environmentally oriented groups including Green Newton, and a particular shout-out to the awareness and advocacy being done by Newton’s Mothers Out Front, we have a volunteer group of organizations focusing on this issue. MOF helps identify gas leaks, and gets National Grid to repair them as soon as possible. Newton does not have the money in its budget to do these repairs, nor should it be solely responsible. Working with the DPW and National Grid, private groups and individuals makes for more progress than leaving it to any one entity.
Education for residents around choices for heating, cooking, clothes drying etc. is in the works and should be expanded.

LEARY:  It’s important that we continue working with the utilities to identify, prioritize and repair gas leaks. I support state legislation that prohibits National Grid from charging rate payers for unaccounted for gas. I don’t support any new gas pipelines or infrastructure that expands our reliance on natural gas.

We can’t do this alone. I will continue to coordinate efforts with Newton’s Representatives to the General Court. And thank goodness for determined and effective organizations like Mother’s Out Front and the MA Sierra Club and committed residents who are working hard towards eliminating gas leaks.

LIPOF:  Solar is on the rise. Other than that, I would be open to any alternative heating sources that were introduced to the council to promote.

NOEL:  I was made aware of the 500 gas leaks in the past 6 months thanks to the good work of Mothers Out Front. I am over-whelmed and outraged by this fact. We simply cannot afford to act on this. The gas leaks have already destroyed our trees and it is unclear the impact the gas leaks are having on our community’s health.

As a city Councilor I would prioritize identifying and repairing gas leaks. As I understand it some of our gas pipes are over 100 years old. As we are considering the damage the gas leaks are doing to our environment, the timing is ideal to consider alternatives to gas and how we can reduce our dependence on gas.

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5. WASTE MANAGEMENT AND ZERO WASTE
In May 2016, the Newton City Council passed a budget resolution requesting that the DPW develop a long range plan to improve the City’s recycling rate and reduce trash tonnage. This included a “Zero Waste” strategy that aims at reducing consumption, encouraging re-use of materials and maximizing recycling. Cities such as San Francisco and Cambridge have developed such zero waste plans.

What are your thoughts on developing a strong zero waste strategy for Newton?

ALBRIGHT:  Our goal to achieve zero waste is good and difficult. Increasing the recycling rate, removing organic materials from the waste stream, and providing training materials for residents to encourage reduce, reuse and recycling going toward zero waste. I think the two-receptacle system we currently have in Newton is successful. If one fills the trash receptacle provided, one must purchase bags from the city. This makes our system a bit of a hybrid and I think it works well. It keeps our streets clean and neat on trash pick up day – which perhaps isn’t a priority for all – but is for me. As a council, we should continue to put pressure on commercial establishments, i.e. markets, coffee shops etc. to use recyclable materials as its methods to get materials into the hands of consumers.

Solid Waste: The Sierra Club supports getting to zero waste. This can be done through a combination of increasing diversion and recycling. In addition, our landfills are nearing capacity and are failing. Incinerators require strong oversight.

[What efforts will you support and fund to reduce solid waste?]

Reduce, reuse and recycle – the mantra for getting to zero waste. We are fortunate to have a strong director of environmental affairs and a department that supports her efforts. She is starting a pilot program for curb side collection of organics which will be increased the following year to the city. In the mean time – I attended a workshop put on by environmental affairs on all the possible organic composting systems in the area. EA needs to publicize these opportunities to the citizenry in general so that more can take part. In addition, the director plans an accelerated education training on recycling and reusing. I have encouraged her to create a Newton YouTube channel for her training videos (she is really good at this).

Concern has been raised that some landlords may be bringing bulky materials from locations in other cities. We need to figure out if this is the case and stop this practice.

AUCHINCLOSS:  I would support a Pay-as-you-Throw policy gradually implemented throughout Newton. This will be extremely controversial but would be the most effective way to incent reduced trash tonnage.

BLAZAR:  I think it is important that Newton develop a zero waste strategy for environmental reasons and for fiscal reasons, and we have been working on this.

CASTILLO:  In order to be a leader on environmental justice, Newton should prioritize a Zero Waste policy. This would require an understanding of the quantity of waste being produced each year in our city and where. I would encourage the implementation of a needs assessment to determine this and other pertinent information before developing a specific strategy to move forward. Steps may include increasing recycling pick-up locations at all Newton residential and commercial buildings, initiating a strong, focused community education campaign on the importance of recycling and composting, and overall waste reduction.

CROSSLEY:  It is the right goal to set as we work to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling rates.

Alison Leary deserves huge credit for leading the charge to properly staff the department and solid waste commission to move the city forward again on waste management and recycling programs. I have been pleased to support her efforts and make sure this program is continually reviewed through the Public Facilities Committee.

Director Waneta Trabert has developed an excellent draft “Sustainable Materials Management” setting zero waste as the long term goal, while establishing a robust first year plan and several initiatives with clear interim goals. She is now preparing a pilot curbside organic waste collection program. Her work has met with applause in Public Facilities, her staff increased by ½ person and we are eager to see the long range plan she has committed to draft this year which targets zero waste as the goal.

DOWNS:  I have and will continue to ask City staff to reduce the size of the blue “trash” bins as they are replaced, and to consider implementing a more aggressive pay-as-you-throw trash system, which is the most effective way to reduce waste. Simultaneously, the City and our environmental advocacy needs to continue outreach and education into alternatives to trashing stuff—from re-use venues, swaps, to recycling or source-reduction.

GROSSMAN:  I’d love to see Newton develop a strong zero waste strategy. In looking at some municipalities that have committed to this, it’s clear that composting is a significant piece of the solution. In San Francisco, for example, homes have a composting barrel in addition to trash and recycling. According to San Francisco’s website, when all materials are sent to the correct bins, their diversion rate can range from 80-90%. It would be great to pilot an opt-in composting program in Newton to see if we can achieve similar results here.

In addition, to reach zero waste, San Francisco advocates for partnering with companies to encourage product life cycle management and take-back initiatives. Getting companies and manufacturers involved in the conversation as our partners in this is critical to success.

HOUSTON:  I support it. We can begin to implement a pay-as-you-throw system, but need to make sure that it is reasonable and fair, and most importantly does not lead to illegal dumping. I believe that we already do a very good job with our single stream recycling, but know we can do more at the city level. Collection of organic waste could be a positive idea, especially for apartment complexes, but for single family homes, the most environmentally sound solution is composting, which can be utilized on site, and this is something we should promote. The most important aspect of waste management is dealing with waste before it is sold. Over packaging is a major issue, especially clam shell packages. While the City can obviously not deal directly with national manufactures, we can promote education to have people “think about the packaging” and where it is going to end up. We need to try and steer consumer choice towards more reusable and recyclable packaging in the first place.

KELLEY:  We are far from achieving the Zero Waste goal, but that strategy is the path to stay on. Reducing waste at the source of consumption is the best way to attain zero waste.  In the meantime we work towards improving our recycling, and how to dispose of the waste generated.  Eliminating incineration it was a good step forward.

LEARY:  I was the author of the budget resolution that was passed unanimously by the City Council in 2016. One of the outcomes of the resolution was a report authored by the recently hired Director of Environmental Affairs, Waneta Trabert; “Moving Beyond Solid Waste to Sustainable Materials Management”.

It is important to understand what “Zero Waste” actually means. Below is a widely accepted definition from the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA):

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient, and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

As recommended in the report, we need to adopt a more comprehensive and integrated approach to manage materials throughout their life cycle and find the highest and best use for products that we no longer need or want. The report is available on line: http://www.newtonma.gov/civicax/filebank/documents/80594

My goals for next 2 years and beyond:

Residential Recycling Program;

Increased citywide education and outreach program on what the City currently allows in the green carts, what is prohibited and what can be brought to Rumford Ave. A citywide mailing to all households was sent out in the last 2 months and continuing outreach is important.

Increased audits of recycling carts and better enforcement and follow up of violations. Put in place a system of tracking the current enforcement by Waste Management which is usually done when carts are visibly contaminated or overflowing.

Implement a pilot program to collect food waste/organics curbside.

School Recycling:

Apply for the School Recycling Assistance grant from MassDEP next year to be implemented district-wide at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

Clear signage in all the schools about what can be recycled. Educational posters on why recycling and waste reduction programs are important. Where does Newton’s Trash go?

Explore opportunities to integrate recycling into classroom science education.

Explore the funding of a sustainability director for all the schools who would oversee and coordinate all solid waste, recycling and composting efforts in the long term. Apply for grant funding of this position by December 2016.

A plan to ensure all water fountains and water filling stations are clean and in good working order in all schools and playgrounds.

A plan to phase out the sale of bottled water in schools.

Parks & Recreation (picks up trash & recycling from village centers, parks and recreation areas)

Better Signage and/or education and mailings on what types of materials can currently be recycled in Big Belly units. This should include a list of items that cannot go into Big Belly Recycling Unit, e.g Styrofoam, plastic bags, liquids.

A public education program aimed at reducing the contamination rates of “away from home” recyclables.

Parks & Recreation should coordinate with other city departments to ensure that all parks and public spaces that have existing water fountains are clean and in good working order so as to encourage the use of reusable water bottles.

LIPOF:  I urge continuing the focus on recycling. We have come so far. Even if 100% is a lofty goal, we should set that goal and continue to educate and ask each citizen to think about their habits and to strive for reducing our trash output.

NOEL:  As stated by Zero Waste Alliance:

Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.

I support Newton moving to a Zero-Waste policy strategy. I have spoken to several environmental advocates in the city as well as City Councilors who are on the front lines of advocating for a Zero Waste city-wide policy. I would listen and learn, review best practices and support this initiative. We need to consider a Zero-Waste strategy at our residency recycling program, our schools and community events and our businesses. The situation is urgent. We used to think climate change would impact our grandchildren, we now know our children will be faced with a very different planet if we don’t act now.

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6. EXPANDED WASTE COLLECTION
The City’s solid waste and single stream recycling contract with Waste Management ends on June 30th 2020. Some apartment complexes and condos are serviced by the City and some are not. In FY17, the City will spend $152,055 to provide waste and recycling services to 36 apartment/condo buildings. More than 100 apartment and condo complexes are not serviced by the City. Would you support expanding recycling services to apartment complexes and condos?

ALBRIGHT:  The city has had a policy since before I joined the Council that special permits contain a condition that any new apartment/condo complex must take care of its own waste removal.  We need to revisit this policy and understand why it was created. We need to analyze if it would it make sense for the city to take over recycling or for the city to add a condition about recycling.  I will not make an ad hoc decision on what to do in this regard until we study the problem, understand the costs and implications of any proposed option and then we can move to implement what works best. If it would be more efficient and effective for the city to pick up recycling at apartment complexes then of course we should do so.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Potentially, although I would want to examine whether those monies might be better spent on other sustainable objectives; no priority can be treated in a vacuum.

BLAZAR:  All apartment and condo complexes should utilize recycling services. Those can be provided by the City, or provided by the property management companies if required by ordinance.

CASTILLO: Yes.

CROSSLEY:  The City’s solid waste and single stream recycling contract with Waste Management ends on June 30, 2020. Some apartment complexes and condos are serviced by the City and some are not. In FY17, the City will spend $152,055 to provide waste and recycling services to 36 apartment/condo buildings. More than 100 apartment and condo complexes are not serviced by the City. Would you support expanding recycling services to apartment complexes and condos?

Yes, depending on their status. A number of these facilities are controlled by special permits which condition their operation. We need to get into the weeds on this to understand how best to incorporate them.

DOWNS:  Yes.

GROSSMAN:  I certainly want to see recycling implemented in all of our apartment complexes and condos.  I’d like to explore the full range of options to best meet this need.

HOUSTON:  I assume at this point they do not recycle on their own, and that is the reason for the question?  I support increased recycling. We need to understand exactly what is in their permit’s special conditions and if they are not recycling, should they be or were their conditions created before the city began recycling.  Before I answer the question it seems like there is a bit more I would need to understand.  Simply stated, those complexes should recycle.  The only question is, “do their permits require them to pay for it or will the city need to?”  If it turns out we need to pay, then we should.  Everyone in Newton should have access to recycling.

KELLEY:  It has never seemed fair to have certain apartment and condominium complexes exempted from city-provided trash pick up and recycling. I believe this imbalance was created as a way to offset city expenses, where developers were required to pay for this service privately in order to obtain special permits. However, it passes on the cost unfairly to a specific segment of our population.
For consistency and fairness to all residents, the policy should be the same for all. If we go to a Pay as You Throw system, then everyone would be equally responsible. If not, then I don’t think any more special arrangements with developers to preclude trash and recycling service is fair to future residents.

LEARY:  Yes. This has been a discussion item at the Solid Waste Commission (SWC) Meetings but this needs to be thoughtfully implemented in a way that does not stress city resources. I faithfully attend the SWC meetings to stay involved in plans towards this goal.

LIPOF:  This is a policy that would need to be researched, discussed and debated with the Council and the executive branch. I would be interested in looking into this further and producing a consistent policy as now it appears that one presently does not exist.

NOEL:  Yes, I would support this.
When we consider the financial cost to implement these changes we need to consider the cost of doing nothing and long term financial ramifications associated with doing nothing.

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7. SMART DEVELOPMENT
Do you support building dense housing and commercial developments like Washington Place in village centers that are served well by mass transit as a way to preserve green space?

ALBRIGHT:  Yes – The Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council both support this type of housing. What I find particularly useful is the NRDC’s criteria for Leed Certified Neighborhood project in deciding if the housing project is go/no go for approval. Both recent transit oriented projects are in my Ward and I supported each. It is also CRUCIAL to get the help of all organizations such as Green Newton – to help our work with MassDOT to improve the 3 Worcester line stations in Newton. City Council can’t do this alone. We have written to Secty Pollack and I continue to work with Representative khan – but help is needed. Please join this effort – I’d be happy to provide details.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Absolutely! I voted in favor of Washington Place and support a walkable, green vision for the entire Washington Corridor. I will be out front making it happen.

BLAZAR:  I do not support the Washington Place project—it is not in scale with the neighborhood—it is too dense, too high, will cause too much traffic, and it has been placed right next to a Newton historic district. The abutters and nearby residents did not want a 160 unit complex to be built in this area. Additionally, this project displaced all of the people living in apartments on this property whose rents were low, and displaced every commercial business that had been on that property for years including Karoun Restaurant, The Boston Ballet, a barber shop, a gas station and Newtonville Camera. Several of these businesses brought many people and commerce to the village center. All of these businesses have to leave and currently there are no details as to who will replace them. This area is not served well by transit – I took the commuter rail into Boston for many years from Newtonville, and the rail is not frequent or convenient. Furthermore, there is nothing smart about this development except the developer making as much money as possible from this project.

CASTILLO: Yes.

CROSSLEY:  Yes. I think my voting record is consistent in support of projects that serve Newton’s housing needs in compact forms near multiple transit options ans services.  Compact, mixed use, transit oriented self-supporting communities also reduce emissions per capita.  And – by achieving an optimal density we encourage further investments in public transit.

DOWNS:  Yes. This is more than just a way to preserve green space. It is also a way to make car-light and car-free travel possible for more people.

GROSSMAN:  Yes.  I support transit-oriented, mixed-use projects that enhance our village centers, create affordable housing opportunities for our seniors, working families, and young professionals, grow Newton’s tax base, and preserve green space. When development is done right — in an open, well-planned, and collaborative process, we are able to create more amenities and opportunities for residents and preserve the green feel of our neighborhoods.

HOUSTON:  The way this question is worded concerns me greatly, as it seems more of a charged statement than an actual question. To answer it one must assume both premises of the question. First, let’s be clear, I am against utilizing what little green space we have left for development – period. Secondly, this question implies that we are well served by public transportation, especially near Washington Place. My understanding is that we have been working for DECADES to improve rail service there and nothing has happened. So to say the area is well served is in question as many of the actual advocates for Washington Place are saying that the service is inadequate. Finally it seems that it is an either-or choice – if you do not support Washington Place, then you must advocate using green space. That is not the case, and there is another option to protect our green space. I support accessory apartments and small scale senior housing as a way to provide actual affordable housing, not high-end luxury units which is the majority of Washington Place. (21 existing affordable units will be removed and replaced with 25 – net gain 4) I also site the case of the 77 Court Street development. Developers took out nine naturally affordable units and replaced them with nine deed restricted affordable units and then built new 25 luxury units. Net gain in affordable units – zero – and the 25 luxury units (as described on the developer’s website) are selling at 7 to 26% above Newton’s already high average sale price per square foot of about $430. Net affect was a windfall for the developers and a traffic and schooling burden for the neighborhood. My vision of Newton maintains more of a balance with smaller complexes and commercial space and includes input from the community.

Specific to Newton, I see a real need for senior housing, and would push for senior housing located close to the village centers, but with development that is in line and in scale with the existing environment, and dictated by Newton, and not the developers. We also have a new accessory apartment ordinance, that will allow accessory apartments. There is a real opportunity to place small (500 to 1000 square foot) apartments in existing structures and create truly affordable units, without tearing down existing structures, which is the most environmentally sound thing we can do. A small unit like this is guaranteed to be affordable, and lessen the impact on our environment.

Sadly, I feel like the developers who are pushing for more high-priced luxury condos are using the exact same wording as this question to justify whatever it is that they want to do and I take great exception to that. There is no doubt that the Orr Block (Washington Place) needs a face lift, but we should be more focused on actual affordable housing and office and flexible work space, as opposed to a massive luxury housing project. We need more commercial space to balance out our tax base and we need to strike a better balance between the wishes of the city at large and the villages.

KELLEY:  Yes, strongly.  Each proposal needs to be considered on its own merits, how well it fits with the MU4 zoning criteria, and that overall benefits to the city outweigh the disadvantages.  Creating more public open space should always be required, and is one of the advantages of compact development.

LEARY:  Yes. It’s unfortunate that the discussion around increasing density in our village centers has become such a highly charged topic, because it is a critical component to an overall sustainability plan. It will also help to increase the number and diversity of affordable housing units. Greater density also minimizes sprawl and preserves green spaces.
We must provide alternatives and incentives to reduce automobile use, especially single occupancy vehicles (SOV) trips. This includes policies that prioritize and support car sharing, offer shuttle services and invest in bike and pedestrian friendly streets that support all transportation modes. We should also expand the range of environmental objectives to include stormwater management, planting more trees and bird and butterfly habitat.

LIPOF:  Absolutely!

NOEL:  I support smart growth and development as a way to develop diverse housing options in Newton, revitalize our village centers and preserve green spaces. Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. It also advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.
The final Washington Place proposal before the city council was a project I would have supported as it met the definition of smart growth, it increases walkability in the Washington Square area, increases Newton’s diverse housing stock, is close to public transit and provides retail and community space.

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8. ZONING
The mission of revising our zoning regulations is currently underway. What are your thoughts on preservation, conservation and requirements for new construction? Where would “net zero” fit into the picture?

ALBRIGHT:  Last spring the draft of the pattern book was released. Our consultant divided the city into 17 similar districts and described the characteristics of each district. The challenge regarding our neighborhoods is to create form based zones that preserve our neighborhoods, this in response to tear downs of small and large homes and the subsequent creation of much larger homes. That being said – I would love to find a place in Newton where we could consider small lots and small affordable homes in the same way Newton stepped up after WWII to create Oak Hill Park for returning Vets. There may not be such a place in our city but it is worth exploring.

The city of Cambridge adopted a 25 year Net Zero action plan in 2015 and the summary gant chart shows a multi-pronged strategy to achieve their goal. There are actions called for regarding retrofitting homes at the time of sale and building requirements for renovations and new construction. I notice that they also included density bonuses for FAR and height which may not be popular in Newton. Clearly, there are strategies and actions to be taken and they should and will factor into our zoning recodification – which might need to be a multi-phased recodification. Cambridge has put a great deal of energy and manpower into this thoughtful strategy – that should be Newton’s next step.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Mixed-use, transit-oriented development is sustainable development. Our zoning code needs to incent housing in our village centers that are pedestrian and HOV-oriented, while discouraging over-building on green lots in our neighborhoods.

BLAZAR:  I believe Zoning Reform will help the environment the most if it stresses preservation of existing structures, preventing teardowns, and stopping the trend toward oversized “McMansions”. Any new construction should be held to LEED standards. “Net zero” energy consumption in construction and use is a principle that should be incorporated as a goal into our zoning reform effort.

CASTILLO:  Conservation and preservation are critical to take into account with our zoning redesign. I support dense, mixed-use developments to be built on under-utilized areas near public transportation and village centers that promote walking and biking. I would not support developments proposed on existing green spaces, and believe strongly that dense, infill developments are critical to preventing urban sprawl that destroys green spaces and our ecosystems.
Additionally, current zoning practices like dimensional restrictions can make it difficult to promote sustainability. Here again, zoning has a role to play in determining the size of the lots necessary to build on, and support alternative energy sources such as solar panels and small wind generators that necessary for “net zero” designs.

CROSSLEY:  In VERY brief:

Overall – we must begin by illustrating master plans to show everyone exactly what is meant by the vision that is within the Comprehensive plan. Identify the boundaries of business, v. mixed use, v. transition zones and various residential areas. This is the bold step that we have been missing all these years. By showing the intended map – people can react/ respond to exactly what we need to do. There really are not that many areas of the city that can accommodate the growth we need, where we want it.

8. continued

Simultaneously, we must begin to draft “development standards”, such as those to more carefully and strictly regulate grading and stormwater management requirements and techniques, as well as provide standards that allow and encourage high performance buildings – and/or restrict size of buildings by, for example, allowing no additional energy use for additions to existing buildings over a certain size. There is a lot that can be done.

‘Net zero’ or energy positive projects can only be encouraged, not required. A municipality is not allowed to explicitly override state building code for private construction. We can impact state law. I was one of many who advocated and testified in favor of the alternative energy code – “Stretch Code” that the state adopted. I worked with Jon Kantar to lead the advocacy and get Newton to be the first to adopt the Stretch code.

In addition, in 2008, I worked with Phil Herr and others to create a zoning amendment that added a fifth criterion granting special permits for buildings over 20,000 square feet. Over time, the planning department and Land Use committee (on which I have served for 8 years) have increased our understanding and demands for high performing buildings and developments.

DOWNS:  I’m excited about the possibility of net-zero buildings! But we also need to focus on how we get to and from these structures. Preservation of current village centers—as areas for work/live/play/shop and reconfiguration of streets to make car-free travel safer—are also important tools to reduce our carbon footprint. I promote LEED for neighborhoods now, and would continue to do so as a councilor. Open space, parks, and even additional pocket parks for heat island effect relief and for cleaning stormwater are also critical to our neighborhoods and villages.

In addition, Newton needs to address parking minimums, which not only makes all construction and new business starts more expensive, but encourages drive-alone travel. Newton can instead have a reasoned discussion with business owners and developers about parking maximums, transportation demand management and other tools to encourage carbon-light and carbon-free transportation.

GROSSMAN:  Green space is vital to the fabric of our community. I’d like to preserve the open space we have remaining, starting with Webster Woods. And I’d love to see us build net zero buildings, though I think a portfolio approach probably makes more sense than a building-by-building analysis.

HOUSTON:  I would like to see us rework our zoning, and there are a lot of options, but I would like to focus on a few key points.  I would place an environmental fee on teardowns.  For all new construction I would like to increase the setbacks in all four directions (grandfathering in existing footprints), decrease the allowable building area footprint (grandfathering in existing footprints) and reduce the FAR (grandfathering in existing square footage) place a percentage increase limit on the amount of increase in square footage (can not be x% bigger than the house that was torn down).  I am not against teardowns absolutely, and I understand that people selling want to maximize the sale price, and that at some point some houses are just past their useful lives, but we must make sure that when a new house is built it needs to fit in with the neighborhood.  The most environmentally sound thing that we can do is renovate a home, but if the home is to be torn down I would like to make sure that our codes require that it be as environmentally sound as possible.  In Newton, net-zero construction will be difficult to implement, as much of our on-site energy would need to come from solar, and we are also focusing on increasing our tree canopy.  If the concept can be maintained, but the power can be sourced from solar projects outside Newton, I believe we can get very close to the goal of Net-Zero.

KELLEY:  I strongly believe that through the next stage of zoning review, we can find the tools to address and balance needs that oftentimes appear in conflict, such as historic preservation, open space, housing and more commercial development. Context-based zoning, and using a Pattern Book which clearly takes the existing surrounding as a guide to appropriate development, can help direct us.  Net Zero is one of the criteria that should be imbedded into our zoning regulations and development requirements.

LEARY:  We need to think broadly and creatively with our approach to zoning reform. While I would support an approach to net-zero that allows for the large diversity of building types that we have in Newton I think we should think of being a “net zero Community” rather than just focus on “net zero” buildings. It’s not always possible for a building to be “net zero”. We must include an approach that will not substitute urban density in our villages in favor of low-rise sprawl. Credit should be given to projects that preserve older buildings and reuse materials. Zoning laws should encourage the building of smaller houses and apartments and discourage teardowns. There are significant environmental benefits associated with salvaging, recycling, and reusing C&D materials. I would support a “Net Zero Task Force” to help us come up with an action plan in the next 2 years.

LIPOF:  This question would take all day and ten pages to answer. In short, any opportunity to preserve open space/conservation land is paramount in my mind. I was part of the team that saved 22 acres at Kessler Woods. These opportunities don’t come around every day and we must do everything when can to retain land when we have the chance. The BC owned land next to Webster woods will be our next opportunity, if BC will allow. The revision to our zoning code should not change our values regarding open space.

NOEL:  I have reviewed the pattern book and am impressed with the context zoning reform that is underway. I am pleased the city moved forward with accessory apartments and I support MU4 zoning as it increases density in the village center where we have access to public transit and amenities.

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9. TRANSPORTATION AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION
Transportation is one of the largest contributors to Newton’s greenhouse gas emissions. Newton has more cars per household (1.7) than any city (>50,000 residents) in the Commonwealth. Reducing single occupancy gasoline or diesel vehicle travel in and through Newton would provide cleaner air, less congestion, and reduce climate impact. Do you support policies like the ones below to reduce single occupancy gasoline or diesel use in Newton and how would you prioritize?

ALBRIGHT:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability

All the items on this list are important. With respect to electric vehicles we need to be sure that the electricity being used comes from renewable energy sources.

The one item not on the list is automated self-driving vehicles. Sadly, I’ve learned that this notion scares people. Imagine a self-driving van taking people from businesses to the T stations, or driving people up and down Needham St; park once shop many places. Clearly this solution takes thought and planning but it is a new technology that should not be ignored. It will take forward thinking and planning and should be thrown into the mix of strategies to reduce congestion.

AUCHINCLOSS:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.

I support all of these objectives except for the advent of a Newton shuttle system; I do not think there is sufficient density to support an organic, city-operated HOV network at this time. Congestion pricing for parking is a special priority of mine! I have spoken extensively with the planning department about this and I expect Newtonville will be seeing it shortly.

BLAZAR: 

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet) Yes, but we should look at people paying for the electricity to charge their cars.
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools. I support increasing such bike lanes. I don’t tend to advocate for “dramatic”, but rather responsible, change.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share. I support car share (like Zipcar) and bike share (like Hubway). I have some safety and labor concerns about ride-sharing services (like Uber and Lyft). Parking share is a good idea, but can be hard to implement.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system) Yes.
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access). Dynamic parking pricing systems are regressive and penalize low-income residents and employees. I do not support them.
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability. I like the idea in principle, but am concerned about raising any kind of taxes on our seniors, who are most dependent on cars.

CASTILLO:  

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet).
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system).
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access).
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.

Yes, I support all of the priorities listed above. My top priorities are focused on reducing the number of trips by car that Newton residents would take within and to/from Newton. To this end, I support developments with more walkable and bikeable streets to village centers; school designs that encourage safe walking routes to schools; and dense developments near existing transit hubs that would increase our rider share, which is critical for advocating for improved commuter rail and train services with MassDOT.

CROSSLEY:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
    Yes.
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
    Yes.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share. Yes.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
    Yes.
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
    If this works to reduce circling – then yes.
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.
    Yes – I have advocated for this – and/or increasing the excise tax.

DOWNS:  Yes, I would support all of these. Some are already part of the work of the Transportation Advisory Group, which I have chaired for the last 7 years.

I would prioritize those with the lowest initial cost followed by those with the biggest impact on both improving quality of life/health of Newton residents, AND our climate goals.

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, [free] charging stations, municipal fleet) I think it’s time to charge for electricity at vehicle charging stations, just as we charge for other energy sources.
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system) Clarifying point: Newton can make many of the T’s options easier to access (sidewalks along the sides of roads with bus stops. Bus shelters, etc.). Our control of the T is limited. We also need to balance the benefits of shuttles with the cost—the Transportation Advisory Committee recommends looking at “jitney” or point-to-point shared shuttle services, rather than a (potentially prohibitively expensive for the benefit) fixed – route service.
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access) I absolutely think it’s high time Newton used market tools to manage parking. However, not everyone with limited mobility is unable to afford dynamic pricing. Car ownership is more expensive for most than a car-share or ride-hailing service, and encourages driving. I would look very carefully at how necessary “free” parking is for those asking for it, since everyone—whether or not they drive—subsidizes it.
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.

To these I would add, “Work with the Schools to reduce driving and emissions around schools.”

GROSSMAN:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet): Yes
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools: Yes
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share: Yes
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system): Yes
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access): This makes sense to me, but I’d need to review the details.
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability: This makes sense to me, but I’d need to review the details.

HOUSTON:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
    ○ Yes, for priority parking and the municipal fleet, but I do not think we should be providing free electricity. Based on the advancement of electric vehicle technology, I believe that more than 50% of new car sales in 15 years will be electric vehicles. What we can do in Newton to help advance that is provide public charging stations through a public/private partnership, and incentivize homeowners to install home chargers by waiving any electrical permit fees.
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
    ○ I am generally in favor of bike lanes and used to bike into Boston when I worked at Citizens Energy, even in the winter (I had studded ice tires). We must maintain a balance here again as we can not reduce the flow of traffic, especially in the winter when very few are biking.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
    ○ These all sound like excellent low cost, low risk proposals.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
    ○ Of course, if we can improve these we should. However, we need to be realistic about what we can expect to get from the MBTA and the State. We need to understand that Newton is not perceived as an area that is in desperate need of mass transit resources. This is evidenced by the fact I mentioned above that we have been trying to improve rail service for decades and nothing has happened. The reality is that there are communities across the State were a significant number of people do not have cars (unlike Newton that has the highest percentage according to the question) and if they do not have public transportation, they do not have a job. The State and MBTA have, and will continue to focus on those communities first so we need to be realistic about what we can expect in regards to increased service.
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
    ○ I would need to learn more about an actual proposal. I would have concerns about fairness for people on fixed incomes.
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.
    ○ I know it is not popular, and in most cases I am not in favor of increased taxes, but in this case I do support a gas tax. I do not feel that the negative externalities are properly priced into the cost of our gasoline. I might however suggest something to help those that are on fixed incomes and do not drive that often, that we have a “tax holiday” one day a week to help keep their costs down.

KELLEY:  

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet) .
Encouraging use of electric vehicles, providing parking locations with charging stations, and moving the municipal fleet of vehicles in this direction are all things I support.
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including 
for schools. 
Safe and connected bike lanes that encourage bicycle use is one key part of the Complete Streets program which I am generally in favor of.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share. 
yes yes yes and yes.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system).  
Absolutely, a concerted and joint effort to improve accessibility and availability of all aspects of public transit is needed; we need to prove adequate and increased ridership in order to be moved higher on the T’s priority list, hence smart growth opportunities that increase commercial and residential use will help get better public transportation options and service.
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting 
handicapped/mobility limited access). 
A parking management plan (and a Parking Manager) would focus this effort. Basically the closer to the desired location, the more expensive parking would be, thus spreading out the cars to further away but less pricey parking works in many other well-documented communities.
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation 
sustainability. 
Absolutely.

Additionally, continuing to advocate and educate Newton families on safe walking and biking to school to reduce the reliance on students being driven by their parents or nannies to school will be a significant contributor to both lessening greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.

LEARY:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.

I would support all the above initiatives. All are important. The first two and dynamic parking pricing the City can implement on its own. We do need to figure out ways of funding the expansion of bike lanes. We need a regional approach to be more effective. For example, even a very modest increase the gas tax can help raise additional revenue earmarked for complete streets and improving transit services. Congestion pricing could also be effective. Implementing a parking management plan, pricing parking appropriately and disconnecting parking from housing units are effective policy tools that can reduce vehicle miles driven.

LIPOF:

  • Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
  • Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
  • Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
  • Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
  • Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
  • Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.

Yes.

NOEL:  See rankings below
5.Incentivize transition to Electric Vehicles (e.g., priority parking, free charging stations, municipal fleet)
2. Dramatically increase a network of safe, protected bike lanes for practical transportation across Newton, including for schools.
1. Implement market-sharing tools including car share, ride share, bike share, parking share.
3. Work to improve transit options/reliability (T, commuter rail, MBTA Bus, development of a Newton shuttle system)
4. Use dynamic parking pricing to reduce congestion associated with circling lots searching for parking (excepting handicapped/mobility limited access)
6. Work with state legislators to implement a local gasoline tax that can be used to fund local transportation sustainability.

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10. MUNICIPAL SOLAR
Do you support expanded use of solar energy in Newton?

ALBRIGHT:  Yes.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Yes, and I voted in favor of solar panels at both Newton South and the library.

BLAZAR:  Yes, It would be great to see solar panels on appropriate flat-roofed building in Newton. However, I do not support cutting down trees to facilitate solar panel use. We need trees for shade, cooling, habitat, to prevent soil erosion, to support water retention and filtration, and to make oxygen.

CASTILLO:  Yes.  

CROSSLEY:  Yes, absolutely.
And we will – Phase III is ready as soon as the rate case is settled and we understand the new rules for net metering and solar renewable energy credits.

DOWNS:  Yes.

GROSSMAN:  Yes.

HOUSTON:  Yes, please see my above answer to question 2 as I detail exactly what to do to maximize the percentage of green energy available to Newton residents, businesses and the City. We also need to promote community solar for those looking for 100% green and for those low-income residents for whom we can help save significant money.

KELLEY:  Newton has just begun to realize the potential for solar energy, both on the ground and on roof-tops.  As solar technologies improve, we will see more opportunities for such installations.  New construction of municipal buildings is already using solar, and I expect we will see more creative and effective uses in the very near future.

LEARY:  Yes. I have consistently voted for solar projects, including solar canopies in parking lots.

LIPOF:  Yes.

NOEL:  Yes – see # 2.

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11. DIVESTMENT
Newton currently puts city money in Citizens Bank, TD Bank, Bank of America and UBS Trust, all institutions that fund oil and gas pipelines like Dakota Access through loans to fossil fuel energy companies.

Would you support divestment from these funds?

ALBRIGHT:  We need to be diligent and prudent with Newton’s funds. If we can find a “pure” institution that meets our values and is safe of course we should move our funds.

AUCHINCLOSS:  Yes, so long as it would not materially impact the city’s OPEB liability.

BLAZAR:  Yes, as long as Newton’s investments into alternative funds would yield comparable returns, as we have an enormous unfunded debt to pay down.

CASTILLO: Yes.

CROSSLEY:  Yes.

DOWNS:  Yes.

GROSSMAN:  I’m open to it. I’d want to understand the transaction costs involved and make sure we’re earning equivalent rates of return on the city’s money.

HOUSTON:  This answer is going to surprise a lot of people given my background in renewable energy, and I am guessing that I will be the only candidate to answer it this way. I hope people read this and understand the level of critical and unique thought that goes into this and that my response is based not only on practical realities and the relationship between energy and environment but also on an internal look at myself and our society. I know many will try to criticize me because the stock answer is “Yes”, but I say “No”. The reality is that these banks are investing in things that we all use every day. We all put gasoline in our cars and heat our homes with gas or oil that is delivered with these pipelines. We are demanding that these pipelines be built with our dollars. These banks are simply facilitating our demands, and until we alter that, the market will provide capital for these projects. The objective is to more importantly demand more renewable energy, thereby lowering its cost. Many of these banks also invest significantly in renewable projects. I know from personal experience that BofA, UBS and TD put billions each year into renewable projects.
The objective that we are striving for is very simple, that is to relegate the fossil fuel industry for power generation and transportation, to history. There is one way to do that – electricity storage. In many areas of the country, renewable energy can already compete with fossil fuels without subsidies. The reason that it is not 100% of the generation mix there is because it can not be dispatched as needed. The only way to do that is to store it when it is produced and use it later. Batteries of course do this, the problem is that they are not cost effective – yet. The day that they are, the entire country will be powered with renewable energy shortly thereafter. The greatest single thing we can do to help reduce the volumes of CO2 put into the atmosphere is to get to cost effective storage. We need to pressure our elected officials at all levels to promote storage, much as they did for the wind and solar industries. The federal incentives for wind and solar, for the last 20 years, have made them cost competitive with fossil fuels. The same thing will happen for storage, the last link in the chain, if we demand it. This is where the front line is in our battle, not with the banks who are facilitating what we are demanding. (Ironically, these same banks will, and have already started, to finance the exact storage projects we need.)

KELLEY:  To make a statement that divesting in companies that support fossil fuels is a role the City should take. It will most likely need to be phased in as alternative, ”clean” investment and banking options are explored.

LEARY:  Yes, but I do need to know more about how this could best be done.

LIPOF:  I cannot answer that question. I own a real estate appraisal company and several of these banks [are] our clients.

NOEL: YES- the reality is this is the way to make change- through resource allocation.  It will take some work and thoughtfulness to divest, but it is an opportunity for Newton to put its $ where its mouth is.

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12. CLIMATE ADAPTATION AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE
No matter how much we do to transition to clean renewable energy, Newton’s residents will not escape the predicted effects of climate change such as torrential rains, flooding, drought, extended heat waves, and more. Many low income families are especially vulnerable to these conditions.

What role should the city government play in adaptation and emergency response and where should the financial resources come from to effectively plan for and manage response? How do you balance short term vs. long term cost regarding the impact of climate change?

ALBRIGHT:  When there is an emergency that effects Newton’s residents, the city must and does respond first.  Finances have to come from city resources.  With respect to adaptation; we have been working on changing our infrastructure to respond to climate change.  We have changed our streetlights twice, we have partnered with companies to update our buildings to make them more efficient and we have added solar panels on buildings and parking lots to create clean energy.  I continue to be impressed by tools I’ve read about from Siemens called the City Performance tool and by the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance to help us find ways to reduce greenhouse emissions.  Perhaps the analyses we have done make these tool irrelevant but it feels like it would be good to explore all methods to support our efforts. (We have to also keep in mind that we are much smaller than all the cities now using these tools – it could be that cities in our region ought to band together to make these tools affordable.  We have communities around us that could be natural allies in this regard.)   We may find that it takes a long time to recoup the expense of some methods to reduce emissions but it still may be worthwhile to forge ahead.

AUCHINCLOSS:[Did not respond.]

BLAZAR:  As the Ward 6 City Councilor, I am proud to have been a member of the working group charged with planning Newton’s new emergency response facility at the renovated Fire Department Headquarters in Newton Centre in Ward 6. Newton has a state-of-the-art emergency response facility now. In terms of adaptation, all of the measures mentioned in this questionnaire are the things we have been doing, or will be doing, as a City to adapt to the threat of climate change. The financial resources will continue to come from taxpayers and public funds from the local, state and federal levels. In terms of balancing short-term and long-term costs, the more we do to slow climate change now, the less we will have to spend on the impacts later.

CASTILLO:  Careful planning now and long-term decision making are our best tools to responding to the predicted effects of climate change. We need to urgently push for the types of developments and zoning reform that preserve our ecosystem, and reduce the negative and devastating impacts of climate change. Education is necessary so that all residents understand that the decisions we make about development and sustainability now impact more than our individual lives and neighborhoods, and will have significant impact on neighboring villages and municipalities with vulnerable populations.

In the event of a natural disaster, I would fully support the funding necessary to restabilize the lives and communities of our vulnerable populations. I would advocate at state and federal level to ensure that Newton received adequate funding to support these efforts.

CROSSLEY:  Newton has just completed building a state of the art emergency operations center at the new firestation. We ar continually training personnel in extreme measures, both for natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Our new fire stations are built to very high standards of endurance as well – to withstand seismic forces (earthquakes),
So they can continue to operate under extreme conditions. We are in better shape than most communities in this respect.

Newton has – but should increase further investments in infrastructure improvements. We are in the second year implementing a 20 year stormwater infrastructure improvement plan, which is in part to address the condition and capacity of SW infrastructure. Ruthanne Fuller and I have had key roles in developing this and other water infrastructure programs – to bring these old systems to a point of predictable maintenance. There were 10 flood prone areas in the city, where the city must add capacity to existing systems. Techniques for ‘natural’ stormwater retention are also in the mix.

DOWNS:  There are currently under-publicized planning tools available from the state that Newton should use to help in planning for climate adaption.

In addition, until the current EPA administration delayed it, Newton was under a wastewater permit that eventually would have required Newton to remove pollutants from stormwater. The most cost-effective tool (and one that also enhances streets and neighborhoods) is green infrastructure—stormwater collection areas that not only treat rain water (with plants and infiltration into the ground), but can mitigate flooding, heat island effect, and can absorb carbon and in the right places, also enhance the safety and aesthetics of our neighborhood streets. I would advocate for Newton to accelerate planning for and adoption of green stormwater infrastructure across the city, targeting neighborhoods vulnerable to flooding or those with the highest percentage of pavement first.

These kinds of changes can be incorporated into current street projects (they are already a big part of building projects), and while they would increase the short-term costs somewhat, will pay back in the long-term impacts. Fully costing out the cost-benefits, however, will also need to happen.

GROSSMAN:  If we’ve learned anything from the very recent storms in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, it’s that every municipality must be prepared for emergencies arising from extreme weather events.  Newton just completed an upgrade to our Emergency Operations Center, and we now have one of the most modern centers in the state.  Continuing to remain vigilant around emergency preparedness is crucial.

HOUSTON:  Let’s be clear about what the impacts of global warming will be and how our local, national and planetary climate will be impacted. We do not know yet how we will be impacted on a local level. Local climate change is something that is likely to be gradual over decades, and the reason that we do not utilize the term “global warming” as much anymore, is because local impacts are unknown – Newton could even get colder. The problem, is that to create a plan to deal with all of these potential problems is virtually impossible. Additionally, as we look at Newton, it is not minor impacts like 5 additional inches of rain a year or a heat wave that is an extra day and three degrees higher that it would otherwise have been, but how our society is impacted by these gradual changes that occur over massive parts of the country and planet. I fear things like the Mexican and Texas deserts migrating north into the grain belt, which will raise food prices for everyone, especially impacting the poor. The slight increase in ocean temperature that will kill coral reefs across the planet which will have unknown affects for life on our planet. The fewer number of freezing days that allow tropical diseases to migrate north. The list of potential cataclysms goes on forever, so to create a plan, it needs to be done at a national, and more importantly, global level. The only all-encompassing plan to deal with this, is to try and prevent mitigate it. Again we need to push as hard as possible at the national and global levels to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels.

KELLEY:  Environmental effects and costs are some of the many factors that contribute to income inequality. The fact that more people with lower incomes are most impacted by climate change and some “natural disasters” (let’s talk later about how man made, built changes to the natural world cause and affect these!) is generally agreed upon. I believe our government, and our individual human response, should be to assist and respond. For the long term, less human intervention and anti-environmentally sound interventions should regulated.

LEARY:  The City must have a focus on increasing resilience to the impacts of extreme weather. This must include strategies for maximizing green infrastructure that mimic natural systems in our zoning code such as increasing tree and vegetative cover and permeable surfaces. This reduces the urban heat island effect and storm water runoff.

I would advocate for a “Resilient Newton” Working Group that would include participation of our Sustainability Directors, the Planning Department, DPW and the members of the City Council.

LIPOF:  Police, fire and city government will be responsive to any emergencies due to climate change or otherwise. The second half of this question is too broad to answer in this questionnaire.

NOEL:  From speaking to constituents the following recommendation was made that I would support: In the model of CPA funds Newton can develop a climate change fund and citizen panel (taping on the expertise in our community) in the tradition of the design review committee. The citizen panel will look at policy and practice in Newton to design and make recommendations to mitigates climate change impact. The fund would exist to repair and replace our resources impacted by the negative effects of climate change.

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13. INVESTING IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Newton has taken advantage of energy efficiency programs to reduce energy costs and save millions in our public buildings, and to modestly increase the amount of solar energy on our city property, but has not sufficiently committed to taking the savings and investing them in renewable energy programs.

As a member of the City Council, how would you support and prioritize bold solutions for long-term resource management over short-term cost? What new programs, investments, subsidies and incentives would you propose to more efficiently conserve and more rapidly transition to renewable energy?

ALBRIGHT:  I’ve already mentioned the tools that are worth exploring – including a regional exploration of their use. Newton needs to find these same kinds of alliances described in the CNCA and certainly learn from the work of this group. Our city has not invested new monies itno in advancing energy efficient buildings rather relying on spending rebates on our investments. I comprehensive energy plan is called for to make sure we are spending needed resources to achieve our goals.

Here is the list of what the CNCA is working on – and it looks like a pretty good list for us
Decarbonize imported electricity; • Increase local production of renewable power; • Reduce demand for and consumption of electricity; • Eliminate fossil-fuel heating sources; • Pursue “Utility of the Future” models; • Enable smart grids; and • Integrate citywide energy management

It is a good idea for us to know that we can’t handle this problem alone; working and learning from others is essential. I recommend a look at the groups summary findings. https://www.usdn.org/uploads/cms/documents/cnca-executive-sum_web.pdf

Two things we can do – use the NRDC’s leed certification for work done in our village centers. We can also look towards net zero action plan as Cambridge has done. This plan could include newt requirements for new construction and renovation and incentives that provide density bonus for achieving net zero. However, as mentioned above, such an incentive would be frowned upon from folks who want no more development and Newton – no matter how energy efficient the results.

AUCHINCLOSS:  The city should install solar panels more expansively on public property, transition its fleet to electric vehicles, require the strictest specifications for new-building energy efficiency, and gradually implement a pay-as-you-throw policy.

BLAZAR:  I have been talking to some of the other councilors who share my commitment to the environment. I’d like to ask the City’s Sustainability Officer to prepare some recommendations for us, and I also believe it’s time to update the Newton Energy Action Plan. We have expertise on staff, and in our community. I’d like to draw on that expertise to determine which programs, investments, subsidies and incentives the City should advance.

CASTILLO:  As member of the City Council, I would actively advocate for the reinvestment of these cost-savings into renewable energy, and work collaboratively with the Mayor to move toward adopting 100% renewable energy. I would also prioritize long-term resource management by investing in and working with existing initiatives that are making headway for lasting environmental change like the Mass Save Home Energy Assessment and Newton Goes Solar. Where necessary, I would advocate on behalf of Newton residents and the city of Newton with state utility providers like Eversource to ensure that the rates are fair and continue to incentivize investments in renewable energy sources like solar.

CROSSLEY:  I led the effort to bring the Green Communities program to Newton in 2010, and collaborated to write the municipal energy reduction plan, which would have met the 20% required reduction by 2013, if it had been fully funded.
This administration refused to fully implement the plan, sharply reducing the investments needed. I would first lobby the new mayor to fulfill this plan, as we write a new one. I answered a similar question form the Sierra Club:

I will continue to push for and support the following with a new mayor and Council:

MUNICIPAL
Begin by pushing the new administration to FULLY fund the 2010 plan we wrote to reduce municipal energy use 20% over five years (2008-2013) in order to become a Green Community (I led that effort). This was to address energy use in the entire municipal physical plant, including vehicles. This is hard work – and some progress has been made – BUT we have not fully executed the plan and so achieved only 9% reduction as of 12/2016;
EXPAND the “Energy Investment Fund” established in 2010 to capture energy rebates and grants to include as well – easily calculable cost savings from energy efficiency projects – to secure funds for continued energy efficiency investments;
REINVEST and significantly increase building and equipment maintenance and retrofits.

Perform in-depth BUILDING ENVELOPE ASSESSMENTS on aging public buildings, to best prioritize and maximize short and long term investments;
EXPAND SOLAR PV GENERATION on municipal property AND partner with the private sector
TARGET NET ZERO ENERGY in new municipal building and major renovation projects; support “Design and Construction Guidelines for Sustainable Construction” in Newton (we just last week recommended approval in public facilities! )
Continue to REPLACE CITY FLEET with high mpg and electric vehicles. Optimize vehicle sharing among departments.

13. continued

PURCHASE GREEN MUNICIPAL POWER: Newton now buys power that is 25% clean energy sourced using class 1 RECs. Strive to renew contract with a higher percentage Class 1 RECs

CITYWIDE
Continue develop a MUNICIPAL AGGREGATION POWER PURCHASING program. I serve on the working group; A public process begins in September to determine what the several options will be – but we seek to both stabilize rates, increase renewable energy generation by purchasing class 1 RECs at some higher default rate for all ratepayers, educate and promote an option to those who can afford to pay more for 100% clean energy generation. Purchasing 100% clean energy sourced power is the future for built out communities like ours.
IMPROVE New private construction:
ENFORCE strictly the Stretch Code
ADVOCATE for a more stringent Stretch code
REQUIRE developers seeking special permits to contribute more (SEE SUMMARY)
Continue to promote private sector investment in building efficiency and solar power.
Meanwhile, as we pursue all of these things, develop a new STRATEGIC ENERGY ACTION PLAN to engage the entire city in reduction, conversion and purchasing of renewable energy.
Develop and implement a plan to zero waste (in progress this year)
Continue to lead advocacy from the City of Newton including our mayor and City Council, to exact rules from the MA Department of Public Utilities to regulate gas utilities – to eliminate the egregious leaking of deadly methane from their aging infrastructure.

DOWNS:  It is important that we do take the savings, and look for additional funds (grants, etc.) that can be plowed in to energy efficiency measures on city property.

The city has committed to reduce its energy consumption, and needs to meet those commitments. I will continue to advocate for this.

GROSSMAN:  Renewable energy must be a significant pillar of the Newton energy mix moving forward, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our environment, but also because it has the potential to save the city money over time. Yes – these can sometimes cost more in the short term, but when studying the economic models of these investments, as a city, we need to operate patiently to derive the maximum long-term benefits for our residents.

HOUSTON:  In addition to the concrete plan I outlined in Question 2 to significantly increase our renewable energy mix, I have many other unique ideas, and will detail some here.  These are simple things that will have minimal cost but have significant environmental and economic benefits.  We can push to have City non-emergency vehicles moved over to electric with a natural progression as vehicles age out of service and are replaced over the next 5-7 years.  I am thinking parking enforcement, building inspectors cars and other light duty vehicles.  The technology is there now to make all new purchases electric – powered by 100% renewable energy of course.  For homes and business, I would push to have all new construction require tankless water heaters.  I have a plan to utilize community solar (in addition to community aggregation) to get homes and businesses in newton to secure significantly more of their energy from solar/renewables.  It will make a substantial impact.  I would also push to have the free MASS Save energy efficiency audit required at all home sales – most people renovate right after they buy.  The seller would be required to do this and provide the buyer the info.  Just like the seller is required to have a fire marshal’s inspection.  The best time to improve efficiency is when the rest of the renovations are underway.  I would also like to promote rainwater capture for watering for the city, businesses and residents.

KELLEY:  In general, my approach is centered on long term, comprehensive strategies and planning. We see too often the knee-jerk, putting-out-the-brush-fires response when we are forced to react to a problem or proposal, rather than having considered full and long term impacts and consequences. I am not familiar enough yet with existing or potential programs that will help subsidize or incentivize Newton’s move in the renewable energy direction, but am learning more all the time and am open to these opportunities.

LEARY:  Green Newton has partnered well with the City to promote and expand energy efficiency programs but I would argue that this is the low hanging fruit and we need to expand our efforts and address the more difficult challenges especially around transportation and a solid waste and recycling. You mentioned several them in question number nine. I would include a regional shuttle service created in partnership with local businesses, expanding Zip car, bike share and shared parking. It’s going to take political will to actually implement!

LIPOF:  Yes I would prioritize bold solutions for long-term resource management over short-term cost. I would consider any new program, investment or subsidy or incentive that was presented to the board and be favorable to any that help us reach our renewable energy goals.

NOEL:  We cannot afford to be passive on this issue. The resources we allocate now will save us money in the future. As a mother of twin girls and an engaged citizen, I care deeply about the impact we are having on the planet. I will look to best practices and advocate for the allocation of resources, taking savings from renewable energy programs and reinvesting them into bold solutions to reduce the progress of climate change.

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14. ENERGY ACTION PLAN
In 2005, the Newton Citizens Commission on Energy, The Public Building Dept and the Planning and Development Department, created the Newton Energy Action Plan. However, the City Council did not formally adopt this plan and to date has not been held accountable for its implementation.

Would you support the development and implementation of an Energy Action Plan?

ALBRIGHT:  Please re-read Newton’s 2007 Comprehensive plan. It is wonderful to see how forward thinking that plan was with respect to energy and how many items from the 2005 plan are reflected there. Of course, I would support the renewal of the 2005 energy action plan and morph this into the kind of plan done by Cambridge – the 25 year net zero action plan. While the Mayor hired a sustainability director, it takes more than one person to develop this kind of plan and shepherd its implementation. It will take the efforts of DPW, Public Buildings, Parks and Recreation, and Inspectional Services working together with this as a focus to make any progress. Our own project on Crescent st must be nudged far closer to becoming a net zero project to show that Newton really cares about this goal.

AUCHINCLOSS:  I support the development of a new Energy Action Plan and would need to review its findings and recommendations before voting in favor.

BLAZAR:  Yes, I believe it’s time to update the Newton Energy Action Plan.

CASTILLO: Yes.

CROSSLEY:  Yes – from above:
Meanwhile, as we pursue all of these things, develop a new STRATEGIC ENERGY ACTION PLAN to engage the entire city in energy reduction, as well as conversion and purchasing of clean locally sourced renewable energy.

DOWNS:  Yes.

GROSSMAN:  Yes.

HOUSTON:  I am not familiar with the document, but a plan that can help coordination, promote discussion and eliminate redundancies as we strive to decrease our carbon footprint can only be a good thing.

KELLEY:  It is my understanding that the key aspects of the Energy Action Plan were adopted by the then Board of Aldermen, as part of Newton’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan.  A more thorough strategic energy action plan is currently supported by some City Council members and City staff, and I would join in on that direction.

LEARY:  Back in 2007 the then Board of Aldermen did adopt some important elements of the Energy Action Plan as part of the Comprehensive Plan (Councilor Crossley authored this). This plan included replacing the street lights with energy efficient lights, adopting the “stretch code and setting goals to increase the percentage of renewable energy sources we purchase. I would support expanding and updating an Energy Action Plan. I would like us to make some headway on reducing the number of vehicle miles driven in Newton.

LIPOF:  Sure.

NOEL:  Yes.

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15. GREEN SPACE EXPANSION, MANAGEMENT AND PRESERVATION
Please share your ideas about how to best ensure that Newton maintains and grows its commitment to green space.

ALBRIGHT:

  1. Find the correct method to get back control of Webster woods – through whatever means available
  2. Make sure that the Parks and Rec Department has the resources to care for the green spaces we already have
  3. Purchase any green spaces as described in the Comprehensive Plan, when they become available (as we did with the space next to Crystal lake bathhouse and Kessler woods)
  4. Require open green space in any new large developments
  5. Improve and finish the greenway along the Needham St. corridor

AUCHINCLOSS:  Newton should not develop on green space, period. There is sufficient under-developed land near transit to provide for the housing supply that the city requires. In the neighborhoods and the village centers, green space should be protected and enhanced through muscular zoning strictures.

BLAZAR:  Maintaining and increasing the amount of green space in Newton makes so much sense. Not only is green space good for our health and well-being, it’s good for other species and good for the planet. It’s also good for Newton’s fiscal health. Open space costs relatively little to service. Green space provides breathing room for us as human beings and it provides fiscal breathing room for the City, freeing ups funds for other green initiatives. We must save Webster Woods from development, and both mayoral candidates and the City Council have committed to that. We must also protect all publicly owned green space from development and acquire more whenever possible. In addition, we must do more to protect private green space and tree canopy, by using Zoning Reform to prevent teardowns, increase setbacks, and protect front and back yards. We must strengthen our tree protections, and plant more street trees to restore the tree canopy of the “Garden City”, which has been reduced by half in recent decades.

CASTILLO:  As City Councilor, I would support efforts from our Parks and Recreation Department to maintain our parks and green spaces. I would work identify potential new locations for green spaces and work closely with residents to determine what improvements can be made to existing ones. Where possible, I would support developments that propose to increase green space, and would not support any new development that was proposed to be built on existing green space.

CROSSLEY:  A few ideas:

We do not need, and should not build upon any of our protected conservation areas or parks. We must strive to protect in perpetuity the are known as Webster woods, which is contiguous with, but would divide in two, a very large conservation parcel. Our open spaces should be linked, and formally protected, especially along the Charles and aqueducts, with usable bike and pedestrian ways. Development in villages and commercial areas should contain enjoyable outdoor open space, with sufficient tree canopy to provide shade for pedestrians and minimize heat island effect. Our urban forest, including public shade trees along sidewalks and roadways, need a plan to increase resiliency (diversify species) that is implemented at least along with our roadway improvement projects.

DOWNS:  Newton is fortunate to have groups like the Conservators who can hold conservation easements, which are a wonderful way to preserve open space in perpetuity.

  • Public Green space—Our parks need attention and maintenance. I advocated for a prioritization plan for the parks before any further CPA funding was applied for, and also advocated for better management of these grants and for building in maintenance funds.
  • Our streets could have valuable green islands rather than the level of asphalt they currently support. Our geometric changes for safety can be filled with grass, green stormwater infrastructure, trees, tiny parks. I suggested the combination of two traffic triangles across from Angier into a green park (still to be landscaped, but with water access) that serves both safety and as vital green space for the area.
    Private Green Space—
  • Changes to zoning could allow for smaller building foot prints and larger green space surrounding them
  • Changing the parking minimums to parking maximums could allow for yards that are green instead of paved.

GROSSMAN:  Maintaining and growing green space in Newton is very important.  I’d like to see us maintain our green space by working to acquire property when the opportunity presents itself.  In situations like BC’s acquisition of a portion of Webster Woods, we must partner with them or explore other options to ensure the woods remain open space. In terms of growing green space, we can work with developers to encourage public, green spaces to be incorporated in their design for a parcel.

HOUSTON:  We must prevent the building of any new structures on what little public green space we have left.  We must also strive to protect what little private green space is left as well, and specifically Webster Woods.  We must also understand that green space is not just in parks, but also in the neighborhoods.  When we raze a small Cape Cod and replace it with a home that has twice the footprint, one that has maxed out the setbacks, we have reduced the City’s greenspace, even though it is on private land.  We need to address the zoning rules that incentivize teardowns at every property and adjust our requirements to help preserve existing homes, open space and trees.  With many of the teardowns, the first thing that is removed are the mature trees, so as to build the larger foundation.  This impacts everyone.

KELLEY:  As the City’s first Open Space Coordinator,  a practicing landscape designer, trained in landscape architecture, I am fully committed to enhancing Newton’s green space.  We have active, passive and conservation areas all to be maintained, improved, and expanded whenever possible (Webster Woods?).  There are sidewalk berms, pocket parks, bigger parks, wildlife corridors, walking and biking paths, train-rail adjacencies, street trees and municipal grounds all as parts of our overall green space.  We can look at how Complete Streets combines storm water runoff and retention, planted areas, sidewalks, benches, lighting separation of bike/pedestrian/vehicular users, safe accessibility and increase to the urban tree canopy together.  Better suited and various species of street trees, set in locations more likely to ensure long term success than a 2’ wide sidewalk strip squeezed between asphalt and concrete, are now being used vs. the monocultures planted 30-50 years ago.

LEARY:  Commitment to increasing density in village centers that will limit sprawl and protect green spaces. Incentivizing smaller houses on smaller lots and cluster developments that maximize green space via zoning reform. Strengthen the tree ordinance. Parklets; repurpose the curb space! Daylighting our streams. Protect and preserve Webster woods!  Turn underutilized parking spaces/lots into temporary green spaces, pollinator gardens and flower gardens.

LIPOF:  Most of Newton is developed. Whatever green space we have is controlled by the City or is conservation. I pledge to maintain this open space and protect it from any future development. Privately owned land is not under our control, unless by special permit.

NOEL:

  • Commitment to smart development- this will address the housing crisis and support sustainable growth
  • Encourage regional growth of our food
  • Zero waste programming and recycling
  • Regional approach to environmental issues

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