RightSize Newton Re-Established as New Civic Organization

Newton, Mass. – RightSize Newton, originally established by a group of Newton Highlands neighbors concerned with the size and scale of the Needham Street development proposed by Northland Investment Corporation, is excited to announce that it is expanding to become a resource for neighborhood groups concerned with out-sized development throughout the city of Newton.

RightSize Newton intends to become a forum where concerned residents can work together to combat the current trend toward over-development in Newton. It will function as a non-profit civic organization advocating for careful, holistic, review of proposed developments so that they benefit not only the developers and their investors, but also existing Newton neighborhoods and residents.

Four groups have already expressed interest in taking advantage of these resources: Neighbors for a Better Newtonville, the Lower Falls Improvement Association-RightSize Riverside Committee, RightSize Needham Street, and the Oak Hill Neighborhood Organization.

Currently, the largest development sites in Newton are the Northland project along Needham Street, the Riverside project in the west of the city, and a major redesign and rezoning of the Washington Street Corridor. If these projects are approved without meaningful reductions in their size, the result will be more than 3,000,000 square feet of new development and at least 1,800 residential units (most of them at already-high “market rents”).  These developments would transform Newton from a collection of unique villages into a series of dense, urban enclaves.  Along with increased density, these developments will bring more traffic congestion, strain city finances and schools, and in fact change the very nature of Newton.

RightSize Newton’s philosophy is summarized by board member Leon Schwartz: “We are not anti-development!  We favor smart, properly-scaled development in Newton.”

Board member Pamela Burton, who organized the Oak Hill neighborhood to save most of Carlson Woods — 20 acres of mature woodlands that provides essential water management in the Oak Hill Park floodway ­­– is troubled by the pace and size of proposed developments throughout the city: “My concern is that no one is looking at all these projects holistically, how they affect all of Newton and not just the one street or one village where massive new developments are proposed.”

Board member Randall Block, also Chair of the Lower Falls Neighborhood Association’s Riverside Committee, highlighted the importance of uniting residents to work to assure that proposed projects further the goals of RightSize Newton: smart, appropriately scaled development that balances transportation, housing, environmental and infrastructure needs.

“Newton residents are ready and willing to work with the city and with any private developers who respect citizen involvement and don’t try to overload our streets and neighborhoods in their desire to maximize their profits. As we approach the city council elections this fall, we will be arranging forums where voters can meet candidates endorsed by RightSize Newton.”