By Elizabeth Nahar

I support the Northland project because I love Newton. I believe that the city needs to continue to find ways to diversify its housing stock and retail spaces, and that this particular project is in a good location to achieve this. Adjacent to an existing commercial district with access to public transportation options (a bus line, and a free electric shuttle to the T) and several major roads, the Northland property is an ideal place to build a high density housing complex that includes 800 apartments, 140 of which will be permanently affordable. Current Newton residents will be given priority to move into 70% of the homes. It would be the most environmentally sustainable mixed-use project in Massachusetts, adding over 10 acres of open space including trees, parks and playgrounds.

Building additional mixed income and smaller unit developments in Newton is the right thing to do because it is the smart thing to do. Research indicates that younger generations favor walkable, environmentally friendly communities with amenities nearby. Density is not perceived as a negative. By creating higher density, mixed use developments in Newton, we continue to make it an attractive place for young professionals to move. At the same time, older generations of residents who want to downsize and remain in Newton would also have options in our community. If we do not build housing that even moderate income workers and retired people can afford, they move elsewhere and we lose out.

Additionally, Boston’s housing crisis is Newton’s housing crisis. If the Greater Boston area does not create enough affordable and attractive places for all stripes of employees to live, we will lose business development with all that entails. The fastest growing cities in the US are the ones that are more affordable and urbanised, and they are not in Massachusetts.

I have lived in two different neighborhoods in Newton over the course of twenty-five years and raised four children here who attended Newton public schools. One of the many things that I love about this city is its cultural and professional diversity. But, I truly believe that Newton is at an inflection point. More and more modestly sized houses are being torn down and replaced by multi-million dollar large homes. If we do not find and embrace ways to create and keep some moderately affordable options for people at various stages of life, eventually the character of our community will be transformed into a place where only the wealthiest can and will want to live. I believe that would be a great loss.

The Northland Newton development is a well thought out project, developed over years with significant community input, vetted and approved by Newton city council, and supported by both environmental and housing advocates. These 23 acres need to be developed and will be whether we choose the Northland project or not. As a Newton resident living on the edge of Needham Street, not only do I believe this development would be a major improvement over what is there now– and most certainly what is likely to be there if the Northland referendum does not pass– I am truly excited by the plans. I encourage everyone to read the details at YesforNewton.com and vote YES!

Elizabeth Nahar lives in Newton Highlands.
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