What specific attributes made you choose Needham?
We chose Needham for several reasons. First, we heard Needham had a strong school system. Second, we wanted a town that had common conveniences, that was easy to get around that also had a sense of community. Needham felt like the right size for us. We didn’t want a sprawling city and we didn’t want a tiny town. Coming from out of state, we were looking for a welcoming community that we could raise our family in. Fourth, location was an important factor for us. Needham’s proximity to my wife’s work, to daycare, and to the highway for easy access for my in-laws were big draws. What we found once we bought our house, was that we shared these values with most of the other residents we met that enabled us to easily build close friendships in town.
What has Needham done well with regard to development?
I think what Needham has done well is maintaining a balanced perspective of progress and change. Having been on the board for several years, I see how difficult it is to find balance because ‘balance’ can mean different things to different people. The one consistent theme that I see is we are all dedicated to preserving Needham’s unique character. I think that’s the most important development achievement in Needham.
Development and progress rarely satisfy everyone simultaneously yet after the dust settles and we look around, the town has done an excellent job at blunting the impacts of development. There was a time when residents were concerned about the Charles River Landing project, the retail and residential mixed-use project at 50 Dedham Ave., the Rosemary Park and Rec complex and Modera. When I ask residents now about these completed projects, most frequently I hear positive responses. That’s how I know the town has been successful as it contemplates development.
What is your vision of what Needham could be?
I see several important transformational opportunities for Needham. First, the town is embarking upon a process of significant housing reform that is responsive to the regional need of affordable housing. Second, the town is contemplating climate-smart zoning reform that will reduce our carbon footprint across public and private property and both residential and commercial development.
I’d love to unlock the Charles River. I see a boardwalk all the way up the Charles from Highland to Central filled with restaurants and patios, an ice cream parlor, a brewery, retail boutiques, a bandstand and open green space. How amazing would it be to pull up to the ice cream shop with your 10 year old by canoe or kayak? The vibrancy of the area would come alive from medium sized apartment buildings, condos and office buildings while luring the rest of us with fun, unique community-making experiences, including safe places for our teens.