Metro, Politics, Newton

Newton City Council Reports on Budget, Honors John Bliss at Monday Night Meeting

Newton city councilors discussed various budget items and new zoning and planning projects and honored John Bliss, the previous president of Newton Conservators who died on Feb. 1, at their city council meeting Monday night.

“John Bliss served as a friend and mentor for many of us on city council and beyond, and whereas John Bliss touched innumerable past, current, and future Newton residents with his work and will be greatly missed,” Ward 5 Councilor-at-Large Andreae Downs said.

Bliss’ wife, Tamara Bliss, spoke in front of the council.

“John really enjoyed the many, many different activities he was involved with in the city,” Bliss said. “I appreciate you taking the time to honor him.”

The councilors also discussed various budget items that have been approved by the Zoning and Planning Committee, Finance Committee, Public Safety and Transportation Committee, and the Public Facilities Committee. 

The approved items included two NewMo fund allocations, including the acceptance of $190,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Community Transit Grant Program for NewMo’s Senior Transportation program, which offers expanded services for seniors with door-to-door service and pre-scheduled rides. The second fund allocation is $712,459 for NewMo from MassDOT’s Community Connections Program, which offers municipalities grant money for community transportation.

Ward 1 Councilor-at-Large Alison Leary also reported the Public Facilities Committee’s approval of docket item No. 87-23, which proposes the appropriation of $3,255,000 of grant funding and a loan of $1,085,000—for a total of $4,340,000—for the construction of Sewer Capital Improvement Plan Project 9, which covers over 127,000 feet of sewer line in Newton Upper Falls, Waban, and Oak Hill.

“Funds will be utilized … to reduce infiltration/inflow into the sanitary sewer system, to eliminate sewer/underdrain cross connections and to improve sewer structures that are aging,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller’s docket request letter from Feb. 28 reads. 

Ward 7 Councilor-at-Large Becky Grossman also reported the Finance Committee’s approval of docket item No. 84-23, which proposes the acceptance and expenditure of $69,878.60 of grant money from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for the construction of five electric vehicle chargers with a total of 10 charging ports.

According to Fuller’s docket request letter from Feb. 27, two chargers will be located on Washington St., two will be located at the Pleasant St. Lot, and one will be located at the Pearl St. Lot.

Ward 5 Councilor-at-Large Deborah Crossley said the Zoning and Planning Committee plans to consider Newton’s eligibility for the Municipal Fossil Fuel Free Building Demonstration Program under An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind, which mandates that the 10 participating municipalities require the use of electric energy for new construction projects instead of fossil fuel-based energy sources.

“That would allow us … to regulate electrification of new construction, and we have to meet certain markers, so there’ll be a presentation on that [at the Monday meeting] as well,” Crossley said.

March 23, 2023