A Vision for Riverside
At the urging of the Lower Falls Improvement Association, the City of Newton launched a “visioning” process in December 2018 to find out what residents and other neighborhood groups would like to see at the Riverside site. Our aim was to produce “design principles” for any potential development at Riverside, not to respond to any specific proposal.
The LFIA’s Riverside Committee articulated a list of topics (see below) that should be addressed by the process and voiced two concerns: that the two-month period allotted was too short, and that having the developer pay for the visioning process could undermine its credibility.
The Newton Planning and Development Department hired the planning consulting firm CivicMoxie to assist in the process. Close to 300 residents attended the first open house, on February 10, and a smaller but equally passionate crowd attended the March 28 meeting, where draft principles were described. Neighbors embraced many of the principles but challenged Riverside being characterized as a “Gateway to Newton” or an “isolated site.”
The final public session is scheduled for April 30, 7 p.m., at Williams Elementary School, where the final ‘reference guide to decision-making at the Riverside site’ will be presented.
Rightsize Riverside appreciates everyone who took the time to attend the meetings or went on the Civic Moxie website, at https://courb.co/riverside, to voice their questions, concerns, and feedback. And we thank City Councilors Krintzman, Gentile, Markiewicz, Laredo, and Auchincloss for petitioning the City Council to conduct a visioning process as a proactive step to articulate principles for an appropriately scaled design for the Riverside site.
We are dismayed that Mark Development filed for a special permit to build a massive mixed-use complex at Riverside even before the conclusion of the visioning process (and nearly unchanged from the plan they presented in September 2018), suggesting their lack of commitment to heeding neighborhood input.
We look forward to Civic Moxie’s final reference guide, and hope it reflects BOTH the potential benefits and risks of any Riverside development to the local neighborhoods. Most importantly we hope that our City Councilors will utilize the reference guide to decision-making at the Riverside sit to guide them in evaluating Mark Development's request for a special permit and zoning changes.
Rightsize Riverside will work constructively with the City Council Land Use and Zoning Committees to assure that any development at Riverside fulfills the arrived-at vision and to press for issues not adequately addressed by this process. We are committed to advocating for an appropriate-sized, well-designed development at Riverside.
For more information on visioning:
The LFIA requested that the city conduct a visioning process for the Riverside site. The city agreed to a process to be completed by March 2019. The development of Riverside is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it should be done right. A number of higher-level questions need to be answered before any project is designed:
For an explanation of visioning please download Community Visioning