Plans underway for long-awaited tree summit

How Needham deals with trees has been at the root of many discussions in recent years. Everyone loves them — but not necessarily on their property or if they affect construction they wish to do. Many residents want to protect them at all cost, others want the right to raze anything on privately owned land. And with the most recent and ever more frequent flooding, what does a lack of trees mean for homeowners?  The town has gone round and round with these questions and is slated to do so again early in 2024 with a Tree Summit. But the…

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It’s about the cake

The operation and success of Needham restaurant blue on highland is a true family affair. Owner Scott Drago, his wife, three kids and his parents are all involved. But it’s his 83-year-old mother, Barbara, who is the genius behind the restaurant’s now famous coconut cake. “My mother used to make this cake every year at Easter,” said Drago. “It was a family recipe. One Easter we were all gathered at her house and I said, ‘Maybe you should make this for the restaurant.’ Fast forward, we’re at about 16 cakes a week.” Drago calls Barbara a true Italian grandma who’s…

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Goodbye Columbus?

Needham has become the latest community to consider whether a holiday that celebrates Christopher Columbus is good public policy. The Select Board dedicated 25 minutes of its meeting this week to a public hearing  on a proposal for three possible courses of action on the holiday: to continue to observe the second Monday in October as Columbus Day; to…

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Toys for Tots

For more than 30 years, Toys for Tots has been collecting gifts for children in need. This year, the Needham Police decided to participate in the toy drive for the first time.  Officers Joe Brienze and Danny Conner are running the effort around town and at the station. “We were able to obtain 10-plus donation boxes, and we empty…

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Rockets gobble up Turkey Day win

On Thanksgiving morning, with low temps and high spirits, Needham brought home a 21-7 victory over Wellesley in the 136th annual Needham-Wellesley Turkey Day football game. Coming off their defeat in the state semifinals the week before, the Rockets bounced back with their first Thanksgiving victory since 2018, to finish the 2023 season with an impressive 10-2 record.  The…

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Boards & Briefs

Select Board approves tiered rates for trash haulers

After much discussion at multiple meetings of both the Select Board and the Solid Waste Disposal & Recycling Advisory Committee, the Select Board has approved new rates to be charged for disposing of municipal solid waste at the town’s Recycling and Transfer Station (RTS).

Over the summer, a suggested 43% rate increase from $140 per ton to $200 per ton met with strong resistance from the four main local trash haulers and their customers. The dramatic increase reflected the fact that the rate had not been raised in a decade.

The local haulers are JT Trash, Dalton Disposal, Junk Removers and Needham Recycling.

Both the Select Board and the Solid Waste committee agreed to consider lessening the sticker shock, as well as agreeing that local “backdoor haulers” handling mostly local solid waste should be treated differently from commercial haulers whose loads may contain material largely from other communities.

Haulers from the surrounding area were making heavy use of Needham’s RTS, incentivized by the town’s significantly lower fees and disposing of trash originating from other communities.

The Select Board ultimately opted for a two-tiered, phased-in rate system. The four local haulers will be classified as “Tier One” and all others as ‘Tier Two.” This acknowledges that the local haulers have customers who are already subsidizing the RTS through their property taxes.

The increased fees will go into effect on Jan. 1 and will be $160 per ton for Tier One and $180 per ton for Tier Two. On July 1, 2024, a second increase will go into effect, increasing the rates to $180 per ton for Tier One and $220 a ton for Tier Two.

Housing, housing and more housing

Having attracted some 300 attendees to its Nov. 9 community meeting, the Housing Needham Working Group (HONE) showed there is significant appetite for discussions around housing in Needham.

Residents who missed the HONE meeting or who wish to continue the conversation can satisfy their interest by attending an open meeting hosted by the Needham Housing Coalition on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the library’s  Community Room. The evening will begin with a presentation about housing in Needham in general and current housing initiatives in particular. The balance of the evening will be dedicated to discussion.

On Dec. 6, the Planning Board and Needham Housing Authority (NHA) will jointly host a community meeting at 7 p.m. at the Linden-Chambers Community Room at 5 Chambers St.

The NHA will provide information on the status of the existing Linden/Chambers housing development, including designs and site plans for the proposed redevelopment of the site. 

Planning Board members will present zoning modifications the project will likely require in anticipation of an Annual Town Meeting vote in May. 

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