Mayor Warren’s proposed override package includes three inextricably linked questions that, together, tackle Newton’s biggest challenges: aging infrastructure and school enrollment growth.
Three yes votes will enable our city to modernize and expand Newton’s oldest school buildings, ranked among the 30 worst in Massachusetts; repair and maintain crumbling roads and sidewalks; provide teachers and staff to address the huge influx of new students; provide critical short- and long-term space with modular classrooms at four elementary schools, as well as renovation, replacement, and expansion of the severely overcrowded Zervas Elementary; improve emergency response time by renovating the Fire Department’s outdated Newton Centre station and headquarters; and reduce burglaries and accidents by adding four police officers for traffic and community policing.
Since Mayor Warren took office, the city has found more than $200 million in cost savings over the next five years by renegotiating employee and utility contracts, and identifying efficiencies throughout all city and school departments.
However, challenges remain. Newton has experienced dramatic enrollment growth, adding 900-plus students since 2005 and at least 850 more expected over the next five years. Schools are bursting at the seams, with specialists delivering services in hallways and closets. Crumbling roads and sidewalks make for unsafe travel. Pedestrian and cycling accidents and burglaries are up. The outdated Newton Centre fire station slows response time.
Delaying improvements would decrease our property values and cost us millions more down the road. Three yes votes are critical to preserving quality of life in Newton.
Marcia Tabenken is cochairwoman of Building Newton’s Future.