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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

Here's a reason why housing is unnecessarily expensive

Here's a reason why housing is unnecessarily expensive

This time it was one of our own. In one of our zip codes.

And once again, our hearts ache as we struggle to make sense of the senseless.

Nancy Hanson, a fitness instructor at the West Suburban YMCA, a chamber member, was bludgeoned to death last weekend by her husband with their three sons in the house, according to police.

“Nancy was cherished and loved by all who knew her here,” said Jack Fucci, the Y’s president and CEO. “We will miss her energy and charismatic personality more than words can express. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

In 2022, there were 26 domestic violence homicides in Massachusetts, In Newton alone, police responded to well over 200 domestic violence calls last year, according to the Second Step.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing abuse, help is available by calling one of the local providers listed here or contact SafeLink, the Massachusetts statewide domestic violence hotline, at 877-785-2020.

If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

Here's a reason why housing is unnecessarily expensive 

Our west suburban communities are requiring developers of multi- family projects to build more parking than is needed. Or used.

And that's driving up housing costs and supply.

That’s the conclusion from a new report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council after monitoring parking usage at dozens of developments in Watertown, Newton, Needham and neighboring communities.  

In every municipality and at every development, parking was oversupplied,” said Adi Nochur, senior transportation planner at MAPC.

MAPC found that developers have repeatedly been required to build hundreds of unused parking spaces. Overall, 39% of the off-street parking spaces were not utilized during peak hours. The numbers were even higher in Newton where half the spots the city required sat empty. 

"This drives up housing and development costs, lowers housing production, and contributes to increased automobile usage and greenhouse gas emissions right when we are in the middle of housing and climate crises,” said Nochur.

This data should be helpful as all of our cities and towns look to update their zoning to comply with the state’s MBTA Communities Law, notes Steven Magoon, Watertown’s assistant city manager.

"This helps us make sure that projects don’t have too much or too little parking.”

New program to connect Wellesley merchants with colleges 

Wellesley retailers, restaurants and other businesses are invited to participate in a new discount initiative to help attract college students to local businesses.

Determine your own discount and register on the Wonderful Wellesley website by July 28 to join the program.

A list of participating businesses and their discounts will be shared with students at Babson College, MassBay Community College, Olin College and Wellesley College at orientation and prior to family weekends.

Report warns another wage hike could spark job losses 

report released by the National Federation of Independent Businesses estimates that a legislative proposal seeking to raise Massachusetts minimum wage from $15 to $20 per hour by 2027 would cost an estimated 23,000 jobs — or 0.5% of the state’s employment base — many of them among small business owners, writes Christian M. Wade at the Eagle Tribune.

“Increasing the minimum wage would have multiple countervailing effects on the Massachusetts economy,” the report’s authors wrote. “It would raise wages for many employed workers, increasing consumer spending and thereby creating additional demand for many in-state businesses.”

But it would also “raise labor costs for many businesses, negatively impacting the state’s economic competitiveness and increasing consumer prices,” they said.

The proposal also calls for raising the state’s tip wage from $6.75 per hour to $12 per hour by 2027.

Massachusetts has one of the highest state minimum wages in the nation. It rose to $15 per hour in January and has increased nearly every year since 2014, when it was $8 an hour.

Friday's grab bag 

  • Developers Victor Sheen and Peter Holland will present plans for a proposed 69 unit (including nine affordable) project at 8 Cliff Road in Wellesley to the Wellesley Planning Board Monday (July 24) at 6:30 p.m.(Swellesley Report)

  • Solgud Robotics, a Harvard Innovation Labs startup, wants to lend a robot that both takes and delivers orders to customers to 100 Boston-area restaurants for free this summer, reports Lucia Maffei at the BBJ. Watch a video of the robot in action.

  • Newton Neighbors is teaming with the Street in Chestnut Hill and Village Bank to collect supplies to help students in Newton and neighboring towns have what they need to start school. New or gently used backpacks, lunchboxes, water bottles, graphing calculators and gift cards can be dropped at Village Bank locations and at The Bagel Table, Hummingbird Books, OddFellows Ice Cream Co. and Legit Activewear at The Street. Details.
  • MassHire hosts its next Virtual Multi-Industry Job Fair, Thurs. July 27th, 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Open to employers with multiple, immediate openings. No limit on the amount of employer participants.

  • We've just revealed the location, and what's on the menu, for this year's annual Needham Night event. Scroll down for details and to register.

All that glitter will still be sold

Our newsletter item on Tuesday about the Newton City Council possibly banning cosmetics containing plastic glitter caught 7NewsBoston's attention this week.

One parent told 7News that she finds glitter annoying and that a ban could be a good thing.

But others said they would still find a way to get their hands on glitter makeup if the proposed ordinance passes. 

“I love glitter, I use glitter every day,” Eden Cha told the reporter. “They’ll still sell it on Amazon and stuff. It’s not gonna stop anything. We can still get it. That’s ridiculous.”

Future unclear for former Carter’s building in Needham 

A three-year effort to convert the old Carter’s building across from Traders Joes to a residential senior care facility has gone dormant. 

Peter O’Neil at the Needham Observer provides the background.

But, to no fault of his own, O'Neil finds few answers.

'Barbie,' 'Oppenheimer' and, soon, this from us... 

Finally this morning, remember the video we made last year promoting visiting our four Charles River Chamber Communities as part of our Take A Trip Up the Charles campaign?

We’re super psyched to announce that we recently received a grant from Meet Boston to shoot a sequel.

Actually there will be four sequels. Which, I should note, is two more than Tom Cruise recently completed.

Production begins next week in partnership with chamber member Another Age Productions. We're making four short videos highlighting cultural, dining, shopping and other attractions unique to Newton, Needham, Watertown and Wellesley. 

So keep an eye out for a camera crew near you.

Big thanks to Martha Sheridan and the rest of our friends aMeet Boston (formerly the Greater Boston Visitors & Convention Bureau) for this opportunity to tell these stories about visiting our communities.

The videos will be released later this summer as part of a larger fall social media and digital marketing effort.

Looking forward to sharing the final productions. And see you at the award ceremonies.

That's what you need to know for today (it's Take a Monkey to Lunch Day and that's less silly than it sounds), unless you need to see a list of things people blamed on short skirts.

Your Need to Knows Newsletter is going on a well-deserved vacation next week. I might as well take one at the same time. See you in August!

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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