Skip to content
Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

A small hint of what others are experiencing

Need to Knows Thumbnail

A small hint of what others are experiencing

We’ve spent the past few years watching other parts of the country hammered by devastating weather events.

This week, our communities – most notably Needham and parts of Newton -- had a small, but not insignificant, taste of what that feels like.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is conducting an initial damage assessment to determine if the state and county are eligible for public assistance following Tuesday's flash floods, or if businesses and residents would qualify for individual assistance, according to Needham state Rep. Denise Garlick.

It’s important to document all flooding and damage in photos and submit an insurance claim. If your claim is denied, be sure to have that denial in writing.

Information from FEMA about mitigating mold is here.

Garlick has posted other information that may be useful even if your business or home are not in Needham.

Rains wash out Volante Farms' remaining crops 

While you’ve likely heard of the damage farms in other parts of Massachusetts endured from July's rains and flooding, Volante Farms in Needham lost everything this week in its fields, losing any chance of a yield this summer.

“Everything in the main field is sick and saturated, as it has been the whole month,” said Steve Volante tells the Needham Observer. “There’s nothing you can do to dry it out at this point.” The store also got some water, but staff were able to manage it.

Last week Gov. Maura Healey launched a fund with the United Way to raise private money for the state’s hardest hit farmers. Donate here.

Honey, I shrunk the transit-oriented development

Another transit-oriented development has been reduced in size before there was a formal proposal, public hearing or vote.

Developers Victor Sheen and Peter Holland had hoped to build 60 market rate and 9 affordable condos in walking distance of the Wellesley Hills train station and a number of little shops and restaurants.

But they've pared the project down to 40 market rate and 8 affordable units following a contentious three hour community meeting during which abutters complained that the proposal would “plummet home values,” undermine “historic character” and threaten children’s safety.

Sheen and Holland unveiled the scaled back plan the other day. But as the Swellesley Report’s Hannah Langenfeld reports, neighbors remain skeptical

It's understandable when developers modify projects in response to feedback. But scaling back a project before housing and environment advocates and businesses have a chance to weigh in is frustrating.

Watertown Square's ready for its closeup 

Watertown is moving forward with plans to reimagine Watertown Square and they’ve recruited an A-Team of consultants to guide the project.
The project, which will get underway next month, will be led by Utile, with participation from Jeff Speck, Stantec and Landwise Advisors, City Manager George Proakis announced at this week’s State of the City Address.

They’re all well-regarded for gathering community feedback, clearly explaining options and finding creative solutions.

As a bonus, Speck has already floated this intriguing idea at our chamber’s Fall Business Breakfast last year. 

(And here's the link to that eye-opening video Speck mentioned at our event which I'll never get tired of recommending.)

Friday grab bag 

  • Watertown News has posted renderings and details for Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ proposed master plan for the Watertown Mall and nearby properties. Full documents are here (scroll down to applications, reports, plans and then “compiled master plan”).

  • You still have time to register to play in the Watertown Boys and Girls Club annual Stephen Mugar Memorial Golf Tournament at Oakley Country Club on Aug. 21.  The event honors Mugar who was one of the original founding members of WBGC. Details.

  • Former South End Boston favorite, Stella, has opened at 549 Comm Ave. in Newton. Chef Evan Deluty’s new place is a big departure from his South End venture, with only 15 seats and no bar. The menu features Italian staples also matzo ball soup, latkes and cheese blintzes according to Linda Laban at

  • MassTrails has created an interactive map of approximately 320 miles of trails that have been constructed across the state and are in use, including many in our region. There are also 24 trails currently under construction and another 60 miles of proposed paths. Explore it here.

Newton Centre finally gets a cannabis shop

After months, years actually, of wrangling Green Lady Dispensary Newton opens Wednesday (Aug. 15) at 740 Beacon Street in Newton Centre, with a grand opening celebration set for Sept. 7-9.

This is Green Lady's second store. The first opened on Nantucket in 2019 and was the state’s first women and minority-owned cannabis business. 

Bringing home the bacon may soon cost more 

Look for the cost of pork products to both restaurant operators and consumers to increase, after a federal judge approved a compromise this week to a law approved by voters seven years ago.

The regulations require pigs to have enough space to lie down, stand up, turn around freely and fully extend their limbs, reports State House News’ Chris Lisinski.

Stating Aug. 24, Massachusetts businesses are prohibited from selling any whole pork meat derived from animals denied that space, regardless of where they were raised, slaughtered and butchered.

The prohibition does not extend to "combination food products" that use pork as an ingredient such as hot dogs.

Almost all of the pork sold in Massachusetts comes from other states, Lisinsky writes.

Newton retailer offers the right Rx to fill Harvey's void 

Finally this morning, the closure of Harvey's Hardware left a giant void in Needham Center -- not just for customers who valued the 60-year-old family business’ deep inventory and unparcelled customer service -- but for other downtown businesses that benefited from Harvey's foot traffic.

The good news is the 2,298 SF street level corner space on Great Plain Ave is about to be replaced with an local business also known for excellent customer service. 

Union Pharmacy, a small, independent, family-owned business with two locations in Newton, will open at the location across from the town common in early 2024, the Needham Observer reported this week.

It's a gutsy move for a small downtown already served by a CVS and Walgreens.

Like many of us, Harvey’s owners Jeff and Gary Katz, first ventured into Union Pharmacy during the pandemic when they were among the rare locations offering walk-in COVID vaccines. 

The experience ultimately lead Union founder and owner Xiaoyan Qin to a conversation with the Jeff and Gary about opening a third store in Needham.

“Harvey’s will not be duplicated, it’s one of a kind,” Adam Conviser, of Conviser Property Group, Inc., the broker for the transaction, tells the Observer, “but the future of downtown Needham is in good hands.

We agree!

That's what you need to know for today, unless you need to know about the change Apple is about to make to your iPhone that will likely mess with your muscle memory.

Oh, and don't forget, tax free weekend is tomorrow and Sunday (Aug. 12 and 13.) Buy local and let me know where you shopped.

Greg Reibman (he, him)
Powered By GrowthZone