Riverside Visioning Process
CivicMoxie presented its final Riverside Vision Plan to the
public on April 30, 2019 at Williams Elementary School. View the final visioning documents.
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—currently an MBTA train station, bus depot, and parking lot—that has long been eyed for development.
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 that should be addressed during 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 manage the process. Close to 300 residents attended the first open house, on February 10, 2019, and a smaller but equally passionate crowd attended the March 28 meeting, where draft principles were described.
We were dismayed to discover that Mark Development had filed for a special permit to build a massive mixed-use complex at Riverside even before the visioning process had concluded (and that was nearly unchanged from the plan presented in September 2018), suggesting their lack of commitment to heeding neighborhood input.
Despite our best efforts and active participation, as well as important feedback from residents throughout Newton, the LFIA Riverside Committee was ultimately disappointed in the outcome of the visioning process and felt it did not reflect the many concerns of Lower Falls and Auburndale, the two neighborhoods that will be most affected by the Riverside development.
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: