09-24-13 News

Newton Upper Falls news, activities and events
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The Upper Falls News is an email newsletter about what's going on in our village.  The Upper Falls News is brought to you by the Upper Falls Area Council but it's intended to cover any and all news in the village. 

Where am I? - Here's a photo of a spot in Upper Falls without its surrounding context.  The game is to look at the photo and identify where in Upper Falls you could find this strange little tree (answer below).

Village Day is Sunday - Upper Falls' annual Village Day celebration will be held this Sunday from 2 to 5 PM at the Emerson Playground on Pettee Street.  It should be fun for everyone.  There'll be various activities for the kids - face painting, sports event (courtesy of Boston Sports), a bouncy castle.  There'll be plenty of food and slushies courtesy of Upper Falls Variety.  There'll be music, and friends, and neighbors, and raffles and fun so come on by ... and when you do, bring a few canned goods or other non-perishables to help out the Newton Food Pantry.  In the event of rain, the celebration will move indoors to the Emerson Community Center beside the playground.

Village Day is co-sponsored by the Upper Falls CDC and the Upper Falls Area Council.  Special thanks go to John Rice, the godfather of our Village Day.  He's the guy who works magic behind the scenes to make it all happen every year.

Art in the Falls - Ye Olde Clip Joint (i.e. Sol's old barber shop) has been transformed into a new are gallery called Lot F.   The gallery is a spinoff from the Lot F gallery in the Financial District in downtown Boston.  Their first exhibition is a collection of paintings in a variety of styles from various artists in the Boston area.  They've been open afternoons this past week but they'll be holding the official Opening Reception on Saturday, Sept 28, from 7PM - 11 PM.  Stop by Lot F and check out Upper Falls' new art gallery.

Little Library - Dean Whitney sent the following:  "Julie and I spotted this when we were walking around the neighborhood the other day (yes, occasionally we make it down to the lowlands).   We saw this over on Rockland Place.  Did you know about the "Little-Free Library" so close to your house?"  We didn't, but now that we do we'll be swapping books there on a regular basis.  Do any readers know who is responsible for this wonderful little addition to the neighborhood?

Feedback about Carol's Photo - The last issue included a wildlife photo given to me by Carol Stapleton.  I misquoted Carol as saying it was a muskrat rather than a woodchuck.  Reader Dan Slifka was on the ball though.  Said Dan "That picture of a muskrat looks a lot like a woodchuck/gopher. Muskrats are much smaller/darker and seldom stray far from water.".  That man sure knows his little furry creatures.

Sign up for the "Tour de Newton" - The first annual Tour de Newton is scheduled for October 6 and it promises to be a great event for everyone - kids, adults, experienced bicyclists and casual riders.  The Tour will be a 20 mile bicycle ride that will start simultaneously in all 13 villages at 9:30AM.   Here in Upper Falls, we'll be starting/ending at The Depot (Chestnut and Oak streets).  You'll be riding the whole loop with a group of your Upper Falls neighbors and be guided by Jim Lerner as the leader and Jim Purdy as the sweeper.  The two Upper Falls Jims know the route well.  The route's been carefully chosen to be a fun, safe and pleasant ride that (most importantly) avoids the worst hills.  Although it's 20 miles long, each village-to-village leg is only 1.5 to 2 miles and then a stop.  Ride the whole route or just a few villages if you like.

As the group arrives at each village, you'll be met by greeters who'll give you a specially designed village badge and tell you a bit about the highlights of their village.  Complete the whole route and you'll be entered in a drawing to win a new Trek bike from International Bicycle on Needham St.  It should be a great event, so sign up here.  We're hoping to put together as big a delegation of riders from Upper Falls as we can, so rope in your kids, friends, and neighbors for the first annual Tour de Newton.  The complementary T-shirts from this inaugural event are sure to be worth a fortune on eBay in years to come ... or just hang on to it and tell your grand kids "I was there for the first Tour de Newton".

What is That Thing? - In recent week's, an unusual vehicle has been seen traveling up and down High St and Winter St during commuting hours.  The vehicle seems to be some kind of scooter/small motorcycle with a windshield and a roof.  It looks like an eminently practical and fun commuting vehicle for the gentleman in a suit that appears to commute to the corner of Ellis and Chestnut Street every day.

The Disappearing House - A few weeks back Jan Huffman sent the following note and photo.  "This house at the corner of Elliot Street and Elliot Terrace has disappeared !"  Since then, the plot has thickened.  Local sleuth Paula (Daley) Kelleher realized that the Newton Historic Commission  has already granted permission to tear down an adjoining property at 8-14 Wetherell St.  While that house has not yet been torn down or sold, Paula noticed that the same real estate broker represented both properties.  Meanwhile nothing appears to be going on where the original house was turned down.

If the two lots were combined, the resulting plot would be 3/4 acre which is a huge piece of land in Newton and a humongous piece of land here in Upper Falls where we have some really tiny plots.  With a little research, Paula learned that according to the zoning laws that combined lot could then be subdivided into three lots, each of which could have a two family townhouse on it.   All of this would be "as-of-right" under the zoning rules - i.e. no special permissions or variances required. Ms.Kelleher thinks that's reasonable enough but came to last week's Area Council meeting to ask the council to keep an eye out in case any special variances are requested to build any more than that on the combined site. 

Paula urges all interested neighbors to contact her (pdk4@comcast.net or 781-910-2580) so that she can let you know if there are any new developments or public hearings about the property.  Excellent sleuthing Ms. Kelleher and thanks for keeping an eye out to make sure that nothing beyond what's normally allowed gets slipped through on that property.

A Gold Pen, a Bottle of Champagne, or a Giant Check? - Mayor Setti Warren and Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey are coming to Upper Falls on October 25 for some kind of ceremonial kickoff for the Upper Falls Greenway project. Details are yet to be worked out, but whether it's cracking a bottle over a railroad tie, signing a proclamation or a lease, or handing over a giant check we're thrilled that Upper Falls newest park will soon be a reality,

You're Not an Upper Falls Old-Timer If ... Larry Smith sent the following:

1. You don’t remember when there was  a bath house at the Upper Falls lower level playground (Braceland Park) to enable kids to change into their swim trunks and do some swimming in the Charles River.

2. You don’t remember when the police crossing guards for the school kids in Upper Falls were select 6 graders from the Emerson School who were given over -the-shoulder white belts that belted around their waist and a police type badge that gave them the authority to stop traffic.  (I was one)

3. You don’t remember when a popular skating pond was at top of  Pettee St. at the corner of Thurston Rd.  The pond was actually a cesspool that would freeze over in winter and kids would play hockey there.  If the puck happened go through a hole in the ice, someone would have to put their hand through the  hole into the mucky cesspool to retrieve the puck. (It was a distasteful task)  The land was owned by the Capobianco’s a very nice family and since then houses have been built on the property.

Resourceful Rehabilitation - The playground equipment at the Emerson Playground is at the end of its useful life.  Work is ongoing by the Area Council to raise the money from private donations to rebuild the playground some time next year.  This past June though, the playground was inspected and some potential safety issues were found.  For a few weeks it looked like the playground would have to be closed for a year while the fundraising for the new playground continued.   The Upper Falls Area Council got together with Newton Parks and Recreation Dept and they came up with a very imaginative and resourceful plan for patching the equipment.  They dismantled the already defunct tire swing and used those timbers to shore up the other equipment.

Many thanks to Parks & Rec and the Area Council for putting their heads together so that the playground didn't have to be closed down this year. 

Which Way to the Toilet?  Another welcome recent addition at the Emerson playground is a port-o-potty on the edge of the field.

Upper Falls on the City Web Site - the City of Newton's web site has just added a new section for each of the villages.  Here's a link to the Upper Falls Village View.  There's lots of useful info on everything from sidewalk repair schedules, to a list of local restaurants.

What if the Traffic Doubled ? - The Waban Area Council doesn't yet exist.  They'll have their first election in November.  In the meantime though, the folks that have been organizing for the creation of the the council have been having regular monthly meetings - a sort of council-in-waiting.  They've got a public meeting this Thurs (9/26) at 7:30 at the Waban Library with a full agenda.  Maybe the most interesting item is that Bill Paille from the Dept of Transportation will be demonstrating the traffic planning software they use to model traffic flows.  He'll be showing their visual models of how traffic is expected to flow at the new Rt9 / Rt 128 interchange that will soon be built.

Strange Fruit (or Is it Vegetable) - I was talking to my neighbor Betsy Hewitt outside the Upper Falls News editorial offices on Spring St, when I suddenly noticed the strangest site.   There's a cucumber tree growing across the street.  On closer inspection it turned out to be a very healthy cucumber vine had grown up into our neighbor Rudy's tree and the ready-to-eat cucumber appeared to be growing out of the branches.

Did You Know ... Leonardo DaVinci invented (or at least first imagined) the parachute"Did you know ..." features an interesting and random fact every issue, collected by ten-year-old Upper Falls resident Jayla Reilly.

Send Us Your News - If you have any upcoming events, activities, news, trivia, stories, anecdotes or jokes related to Upper Falls just send them to news@UpperFallsNews.org and we'll include them in the next newsletter.  For those who prefer living in the past, back issues of the Upper Falls News are archived at UpperFallsNews.org.

'Where Am I" Answer - The tree is just outside the Echo Bridge Restaurant on the corner of Chestnut and Elliot Streets (aka Virgilio's).  There are a few trees on both sides of the street with the same look.  It almost looks like a bigger tree died and all that was left was a stump ... and then new branches began sprouting out of the stump.  If anybody knows more about these trees, please send us info.