I’m a sixth generation (at least) Newtonian. I graduated from the Emerson School like my father before me. I borrowed books from the Upper Falls Branch Library as a child unable to get to the Main Library at the opposite corner of the city, and as an adult trying to pick up books in brief stop offs on my way home from work. I graduated from Meadowbrook Junior and Newton South High School. My education in Newton enabled me to earn a B.A, in English from Boston College and a Master of Urban Affairs degree from Boston University. I spent many years as a neighborhood activist and political junkie.
I came to the Board to support the values of our villages, including branch libraries, village schools, neighborhood parks, and village businesses. I’ve fought a fierce rearguard action to protect these values even as public financial policies and limited local powers led to their decline. I know how to write and pass ordinances and resolutions to promote and defend village values. I know how to blend the opinions of my colleagues in a productive way. I opposed the recent Branch Library closings as well as the earlier ones, and made sure that the people of the affected neighborhoods had basic branch library book collections on which to build community libraries. I'm a happy patron of the Auburndale Community Library and the Waban Library Center and would be happy to help activists from other villages to follow their example.
As past Chair of the Zoning and Planning Committee and a past member of the Public Facilities Committee, I worked to preserve the quality of life in our city, particularly the environment and history of the city. I’ve been a consistent and innovative voice for solar energy and recycling. As President of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge, I’ve led the revitalization of this beautiful park.
As a sixth generation resident of the city with ancestors buried in at least two of the Historic Burying Grounds and a resident of Historic Upper Falls, I care deeply about the historic buildings and landscapes of our city. I sponsored, co-sponsored, or otherwise supported the Landmark Ordinance, Demolition Delay Ordinance, and all of the three Historic Districts proposed since I joined the Board. I’ve also carefully monitored them and proposed changes when they became onerous or burdensome.
I’ve sponsored nationally recognized amendments to the Zoning Ordinances to control the plague of monster homes in the city. When new and older elements of the Zoning Ordinances became unreasonable for some property owners without any public benefits, I appointed a Zoning Task Force of knowledgeable residents and professionals from relevant disciplines to find ways to update the ordinance to relieve undue burdens without sacrificing neighborhood values. I've monitored the implementation of the amendments and worked with citizen groups to make sure that they're properly carried out. I've proposed new amendments to correct problems and to deal with major changes in topography.
As member and later Chair of the Public Buildings Preservation Task Force, I helped to begin the Historic Preservation of many of our historic public structures.
As a member of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee, I was the first to flag the issue of impact of the Route 128 Add-A-Lane Project on traffic in Newton and worked to preserve MBTA bus service to the city.
I have tried to keep our legislators and the Massachusetts Municipal Association focused on the ending the telecom tax exemption.
I’ve proposed a variety of new ideas like using the principles of the Main Street Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to revitalize our village centers, replacing demolition of buildings with deconstruction and architectural salvage, formally recognizing our existing Sister City Relationships and seeking new ones that reflect the diversity of the city.
I appreciate the opportunity to have worked on these and other issues on your behalf, and I look forward to continuing to do so in the future. Please do not hesitate to contact me to express your views on any topic before the city or to seek information about city matters.
For more information on my record and plans for the future, please read my position papers that are listed to the left. If you have direct questions email me at BYates@newtonma.gov or call me at (617) 244-2601.
I’ve enjoyed serving the city and would deeply appreciate the chance to continue.