One by one, the children removed their winter jackets and put on big smiles, shedding their inhibitions for the promise of shiny red tricycles, plastic slides, and the undivided attention of their adult companions.
The children transformed an empty cardboard box into a boat, a drum set, and dream house. Foam block cities were raised in mere minutes and then sent tumbling by a passing dinosaur. An unoccupied preschool gym became an indoor playground.
The Brookline Recreation Department’s Indoor Play Program at Soule Early Childhood Center, 652 Hammond St., was created by the Brookline Recreation Department for children ages 6 months to 3 years.
For $5 a child for Brookline residents ($7 for non- residents), caregivers can bring children to Soule on a drop-in basis Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Soule gym offers a safe, warm and dry alternative to outdoor playgrounds for adults to supervise their small children during the colder months of the year. While start dates and times change tentatively from season to season, the program usually runs from October until the end of April.
Program administrator Joan Kibrick, a teacher at Soule, describes the beauty of the program as being the freedom of open play.
“It’s a truly interesting environment that allows kids the freedom to explore. It’s safe, and free, without the interruptions of scheduled snack times, or circle time, or nap times,” said Kibrick.
Kibrick said the program is a beneficial way to socialize young children and for parents to get out of the house and meet other families who have small children in their community.
“Even the littlest kids start to develop relationships at this age,” Kibrick said. “Whether they are fighting over a toy or collaborating on an art project, this is a great opportunity to engage them with children of their own age in a safe and healthy environment to prepare them for later daycare or school environments.”
Mona Perez has been bringing her son Mateo to the Soule program for the past five months. Mateo is 3 years old, and his family moved from Mexico a little over a year and a half ago.
“Indoor play is a good way to prepare him for the transition into preschool and into speaking English,” Perez says. “Vocalizing his feelings and being around so many other children has been a great experience for him.”
Miriam Pappas is a mother of three. She brings her youngest daughter to the program because it is flexible and works well with her family’s busy schedule.
“I love the drop-in aspect of the program. Unlike classes, which parents pay for and feel pressured to attend on time, I like that we can pay as we go and arrive and leave on a time schedule that we choose,” Pappas said. “I also like that the area is contained, so there’s no stress of losing your child in a crowd or of children wandering too far.”
The program includes activities ranging from group art projects to yoga, music, slides, age-appropriate playground equipment, and much more. There is a designated snack area, books, and puzzles for different levels of supervised play. Children are encouraged to move freely from activity to activity. All the children are encouraged to help during the clean up and break down process of the indoor park. With the collaborative effort the total process takes no more than 20 minutes.
Kibrick said this initiative began as a service project and has never been intended as a source of profit. Kibrick, a Brookline resident herself, can remember bringing her own children many years ago when the program was un-administered. There was only a $2 trust box left for people to make donations to use the free space and few balls and toys donated to Brookline Recreation.
While the program has grown since then, its foundations have remained the same.
“Its all about the families and giving them a place to be together. From the start of the season we average about 14 or 15 families per day. At our busiest we’ve had maybe over 25,” Kilbrick said.
The indoor play season will continue until April 30 this year, its doors open to anyone who embraces the spirit of free and unstructured playtime.
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.
Walking through Brookline Village, a resident might be surprised to see a large number of people still toting plastic shopping bags rather than their paper counterparts. Brookline Town Meeting last November banned plastic bags and polystyrene to-go containers.
More than 75 town businesses fell under the jurisdiction of the plastic bag ban, and 350 businesses — including all the town’s restaurants — fell under the restrictions of banned polystyrene products.
Still, a few months into official inspections, businesses and residents are still having a hard time adjusting to and understanding the legislation.
Geron Gjata, daytime manager of Martin’s Coffee Shop at 35 Harvard St., a small business, said, “If you are a big business, perhaps you don’t mind, but for the smaller guys it really costs us.”
Martin’s Coffee Shop is exempt from the plastic bag ban because it is less than 250 square feet.. But as a food vendor it must obey the ban on polystyrene to-go containers — of which the shop is still in clear violation.
Gjata said that while the town has been lenient in granting extensions and appeals so small business can have more time to find a cost-effective alternative, ultimately small businesses like Martin’s will take a hit.
Brookline Director of Health and Human Services Alan Balsam said the legislation was not intended to harm any of the township’s small businesses, and that steps have been taken to minimize harm while still optimizing productivity of the new law. Some ways in which the town plans to implement this policy is through a multi-phase system of educating business owners and working with them to find environmentally friendly alternative products.
“We haven’t gotten there yet. We’re going to start with education, working with people,” Balsam said. “We know that if they don’t comply after their waiver expires, we would give them a warning. Then and only then, would we fine them either $50 or $100 per infraction, depending on whether the violation involves polystyrene or the plastic bags.”
Specifics regarding compliance infractions and penalties are still being developed. Meanwhile, town residents have varying opinions on the ban.
Brookline resident Chris Vee called the ban “asinine.”
“If the individual suffers at the hand of the collective, the results are just as harmful,” Vee said, adding that he believes the people really suffering at the hands of this legislation are the customers. “People do recycle plastic bags. They use them to line their garbage bins and for cat litter. They last longer than paper bags, which get wet one time and become useless.”
But Beth Signore, of Brookline Fine Wine and Gourmet at 27 Harvard St. said, “All in all I think its good legislation. I believe it is a small change that we can make to achieve a big difference.”
“I think we all need to care about the environment, and Brookline is one of those places where residents understand that to enjoy a progressive community means to change with the times,” Signore said.
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.
Think your child has what it takes to become one of Boston’s inaugural Lego ambassadors?
From now until March 14, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston will be accepting applications from children ages 5 to 12 to participate on a team to help LEGOLAND become the best attraction of its kind.
Kelly Smith, Marketing Manager at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston, said this is another step that will bring the discovery center closer to its opening in May. The group selected Ian Coffey as the new master model builder on January 26, and now Coffey will select his panel of child advisors to give feedback on the new center.
“We had our Brick Factor competition to find the master model builder, but every one needs a great team of support,” Smith said. “So we’ve developed the junior competition, which will allow 12 kids to be part of a team to help Ian with events and activities leading up to grand opening, as well as after the fact.”
Ian Coffey, the master model builder for Boston’s LEGOLAND Discovery Center, said he is excited to select the team of children that will comprise the junior construction panel and that he will be looking for a variety of qualities in the applications.
“It’s my first real responsibility, which I’m really excited for,” Coffey said. “The things I’m looking for is how creative the children can be, how enthusiastic they are, and how their imagination comes about . . . [I’m looking for] who really had all those things coming together when they built with the Lego bricks.”
As part of the application, children must include a video or photo and written response explaining what makes them the biggest Lego fan and why they should be part of the panel. They should also show something they built with Lego bricks. Coffey said he is excited to see the responses and what the kids come up with by themselves.
“In an essay, I want to see the kid. I love the raw child, even a handwritten note,” Coffey said. “When you’re reading it and you can really see that they’re engaged in what they’re writing, that’s the kind of stuff that’s going to stick out to me.”
Smith said that while a major part of being ambassador is testing the rides and being excited about the attraction, another part is providing feedback to the center. She said LEGOLAND is an attraction for children, and as such their opinions help make the center the best it can be. She said that in the process, it also provides children a great opportunity to interact with adults and grow through working in a team atmosphere.
“It’s a team of 12, so they will need to work together and develop skills of teamwork. But also, interpersonal skills, speaking skills and confidence will be gained throughout the year . . . It’s a pretty strong role for a child,” Smith said. “[We’re looking for] children who feel comfortable working with a variety of different people.”
Smith said it will be interesting to see the number of children who apply. She said it’s great to be able to offer those selected the chance to experience the discovery center before it officially opens in May.
“The Discovery Center is a really exciting attraction coming to the Boston area,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a unique opportunity for a child to be able to experience something so new and great and incorporate it with a toy that’s so educational and constructive. It’s such a great toy that so many children love.”
Coffey hopes that parents will encourage and help their Lego-loving children to apply. He said that for him, it was all about taking steps towards what he loves, and he hopes a lot of children will do the same.
“I want kids to come out of this after day one saying this is my dream, I can reach it. I can do this,” Coffey said. “The creativity, design, imagination, you can build those and shape them, but I really want children to understand that if they want to become something—even become a junior panelist—to just keep going for it.”
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston will be accepting applications for its junior construction panel from now until March 14. The 12 winners will be announced on their Facebook page on March 17. For contest rules and to apply, visit the LEGOLAND’s website.
Wegmans Chestnut Hill will hold its grand opening on Sunday, April 27, according to a press release from Wegmans Food Markets. The wine, beer, and spirits shop on the store's second floor will open almost a month earlier on Saturday, March 29.
The Chestnut Hill Square location on Route 9 is an approximately 80,000 square-foot supermarket that includes the second-level, 10,500 square-foot liquor store. This will be the second Wegmans location in Massachusetts. The company has also announced plans for a store in the Fenway.
“We’re thrilled to announce the grand opening date of our new Chestnut Hill store, one that we’ve been looking forward to for some time,” said Rich Boscia, store manager. “The Greater Boston community has already welcomed us with open arms. We can’t wait to provide our Chestnut Hill customers with the incredible customer service and the unique shopping experience that people have come to expect from Wegmans.”
The store is still accepting applications for full and part-time positions. One hundred percent of the 350 part-time positions will be hired locally. Applications can be found online at www.wegmans.com/careers.
“At Wegmans, we pride ourselves on our reputation for offering an excellent working environment for our employees, as this is the 17th year in a row we’ve appeared on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For,’” said Marybeth Stewart, Wegmans human resources manager for New England. “We’re continuing to hire for our Chestnut Hill store and hope those in the Greater Boston community looking to start their career or begin a new chapter in their career will consider Wegmans as their future employer.”
Wegmans Food Markets is an 83-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
School officials have appointed a principal to head the Old Lincoln School on Route 9/Boylston Street in Brookline when it is re-opened as temporary space. Photo by Brock Parker.
Brookline Public Schools have named a principal to head the Old Lincoln School as the town prepares to begin re-using the vacant building as temporary space to alleviate overcrowding in the district.
The school district announced Monday that Monica Crowley, the vice principal of the Lawrence School, will be the principal of the Old Lincoln School beginning July 1.
School district administrators are recommending that the old school on Route 9/Boylston Street be used as transition space from September 2015 through June of 2018 while the district expands and renovates other schools to address the need for more space caused by a surge in enrollment.
School officials have recommended the building be used for students in the 7th and 8th grades from September 2015 through June of 2016, and for grades 6 through 8 from September of 2016 through June of 2018.
Crowley’s tenure as principal will begin more than a year before students will be attending the Old Lincoln School, but in July she will begin working with the town’s building department, an architect and contractors and will develop a transition plan for staff and students, according to the school district.
“The temporary school will undoubtedly present some unique challenges but I have every confidence that Monica will be an exceptional principal and work closely with staff to create a community for her students,” said Superintendent of Schools William Lupini in a statement announcing the appointment Monday.
The Old Lincoln School was closed in the early 1990s, but has since been used as temporary space for other schools, such as the Runkle School, and other town departments, such as the Police Department, during construction projects.
A number of parents have vehemently objected to the school being used as a permanent solution to alleviating space needs in the district because it is beside the heavily traveled Route 9 and lacks green space around the building.
Crowley has been the vice principal at the Lawrence School in Brookline since 2008 and has 18 years of teaching experience at the middle school level, according to the school district.
Brookline will celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Horse this weekend with Asian food, music, and performances in Chinese yoyo to martial arts and double Dutch.
The Brookline Pan Asian Lunar New Year Celebration will be held Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. in Brookline High School and also celebrates the Korean Seollal and the Vietnamese Tết.
The event is free and open to the public and will feature lessons in Dandia dance along with crafts and interactive table games for children and adults.
Brookline’s Health Department is co-sponsoring the event along with the Brookline High School Asian Pacific American Club, the Brookline Asian American Family Network and the Brookline Community Foundation.
The event will be held in the MLK Room and the atrium at the high school located at 115 Greenough Street.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
The MBTA announced today that a number of its bus lines will receive a countdown clock system to alert riders to when the next bus on each route will arrive. Last week, the transit system completed its 18-month installation of 314 of these countdown clocks at 53 stations along the Red, Orange, and Blue lines. While by all means good news for the T, the announcement left me and the nearly 220,000 daily riders of the Green Line wondering: What about us?
The Green Line gets a pretty bad--and in my opinion, undeserved --rap.
What other line serves more than 60 stations, covering 12 Boston neighborhoods and parts of Brookline, Newton, Cambridge, and soon Somerville?
What other line touches Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, the Colleges of the Fenway, the Downtown universities, and even (with a 15-minute walk) MIT?
What other line drops you off steps away from Boston's biggest landmarks--Fenway Park, Newbury Street, the Science Museum, to name a few?
Why will it be one of the last lines to get the countdown clocks? The MBTA said it will introduce the technology on the Green Line by the end of this year.
It's time to reclaim the Green Line, Boston's and America's first subway line. Sure, the rides may be bumpy and the trains may be delayed (though that problem's not exclusive to Green Line,) but it excels at taking you where you need to go. What else can we ask of it?
I am a proud Green Line commuter. It's the line that ferried me around the city as a college student. It's the line that still does that today. The Green Line and I may not always get along, but day after day, it keeps showing up, and I keep riding.
Today, we asked you what you love about the Green Line. Here are some of the responses:
@BostonDotCom Growing up next to the E Line, I hated the loud noises! But now I'm in the suburbs, hearing the screeching reminds me of home.— Henry Wu (@ByHenryWu) February 6, 2014
@BostonDotCom I love when it remains stationery under ground for extended periods of time.— KerryJ (@KerryJSay) February 6, 2014
@BostonDotCom I love the mystery and suspense of wondering if a Lechmere train is ever actually going to come. I'm an adventure junkie.— Sean Marsters (@swmarsters) February 6, 2014
Sarcasm aside, the Green Line touches a lot of this city's population. Let's embrace Boston's only streetcar, subway line.
Lastly, as promised on Twitter, a Green Line poem:
O fairest of T lines, you take me away
From Park Street to Lechmere, Riverside to Fenway
In rain, sleet and snow
You still manage to go
Though often you run on substantial delays.
The MBTA plans to soon install countdown clocks at a number of bus stations throughout its system to notify riders when the next bus on each route will leave that station, the agency announced today.
The bus way at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain will be the first bus location to get the electronic message boards, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith.
Signs are also planned in bus ways at Dudley Square and Ruggles stations, she said. Eight other stations have been "tentatively" chosen to receive the signs: Harvard Square; Haymarket, Ashmont; Kenmore; Maverick, Wonderland, Jackson Square, and Central Square.
The signs should be operational by summer, Smith said.
The signs, using real-time bus tracking data, will provide information about when each route serving that station is next expected to depart. The signs will feature both visual and audio messages.
The project is funded through federal stimulus money, and each sign costs about $50,000, a price tag that includes the display, hardware, software, installation, maintenance and a push-button activated sound system so that people with visual impairments can access the information on the sign, she said.
Most stations will have one sign each. Dudley, because of its size, will have two, she said.
"I've often said our buses are the work horses of our system, serving more than 375,000 people on a typical weekday," T general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. "The countdown signs at our busiest bus stops will provide customers with information that will make their public transit experience easier and more convenient."
Last week, the T completed an 18-month-long project to activate a total of 314 countdown clocks at all 53 subway stations on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, which officials said made the T one of the first transit agencies in the country to equip all heavy rail stations with train-arrival information.
Officials said the signs have been popular and well-received by riders, and since they were introduced in the summer of 2012 the agency said it has made regular improvements based on rider feedback, including making the signs more accurate and easier to see.
The T said it expects to introduce the countdown clock system to the Green Line by the end of this year. The light rail line is undergoing work to upgrade its less-sophisticated train tracking system with GPS and sensor technology to allow for countdown clock capability.
The agency has also said technology upgrades on the Green Line will allow smartphone-carrying riders to be able to track in real-time the whereabouts and expected arrival of the line's trains by 2015.
Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue have been tracked by mobile applications since the fall of 2010, when the agency made real-time train location data on those lines available to private software developers, who have created numerous smartphone applications. The T made real-time data on bus locations available to software developers in fall of 2009.
Brookline school officials have approved drastic changes to a controversial proposal that would have excluded a number of homes straddling the town line from the public school district.
The Brookline School Committee approved a new policy last Thursday, Jan. 30, that will require that at least 25 percent of a dwelling be in Brookline to qualify as part of the town’s school district. But the new policy will grandfather all single family dwelling units purchased on or before the new policy was approved, said Rebecca Stone, who led the effort to revamp the town’s eligibility standards for properties on the town line.
Brookline had been considering a new policy that would have excluded homes on the Brookline borders with Boston and Newton at more than 30 different addresses from remaining in the school district if the homes were sold and the town did not assess property taxes on at least 50 percent of the property. The proposal drew a backlash from a number of homeowners who said the policy would decrease the values of their homes.
Stone said under the revised policy that has been approved, homes purchased before the policy change will still be considered part of the school district when they are sold unless they are developed in a way that more than a single family lives in the dwelling.
The school committee studied the changes to the borderline dwellings because of overcrowding in the schools, and Stone said the adopted change addresses the school committee’s goal of preventing increases in enrollment from the properties.
State health officials Friday released the names of companies that will receive the first 20 licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.
In Middlesex County, licenses will go to facilities slated for Lowell, Ayer, Newton, and Cambridge. In Norfolk County, the locations are in Brookline and Quincy. In Suffolk County, two are slated in Boston.
In Plymouth county, licenses will go to facilities slated for Plymouth and Brockton. And in Worcester County, the locations are in Milford and Worcester. In Essex County, they are slated in Salem and Haverhill.
Here are the others: Mashpee and Dennis in Barnstable County; Taunton and Fairhaven in Bristol County; Holyoke in Hampden County; and Northampton in Hampshire County.
Counties without a selected dispensary include Berkshire, Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket.