Halina Brown, Newton senior and a Chair of Newton Citizens Commission on Energy.
The merits of the Northland project are being excellently presented by many community leaders. While I entirely agree with their arguments, I would like to add another perspective: a future vision for the Northland neighborhood as a sustainable village and my future home.
Let’s face it: despite the steady reductions in greenhouse emissions from the municipal operations, and despite the ambitious PowerChoice program, Newton has a very long way to go to be called a sustainable community. Its overall greenhouse gas emissions have not declined in the past decade, traffic is getting worse, the use of bicycles is minimal, electric vehicles represent only about 1% of all cars, and newly constructed houses are getting bigger every year (though also more efficient).
The Northland project creates an opportunity to create a village within Newton where these trends are reversed while at the same time the quality of life is improved. How? By reducing driving, creating parks, and building a community.
Between the businesses that will open in the new complex and those already existing along Needham and Chestnut Streets and Highland Avenue people living in that area will be able to satisfy most of their needs locally, without driving. Already, that area offers an amazing variety of services, eating and drinking establishments and retail stores of all kinds. For children it has schools of music, dance, gymnastics, swimming, language immersion, and cooking, just to name a few. Other amenities and cultural events will inevitably follow because 800 residential units will make them viable.