RightSize Riverside – Let's Get it Right!

A Vision for Riverside

Have a say in what's developed at Riverside by going to: https://courb.co/riverside  and clicking on "comments" or "map."

The Visioning Consultant will record all the comments and develop "recommended principles" for development at the site that will be shared with the City Council.

See a video of  Mayor Ruthanne Fuller during her campaign praising the importance of community visioning; specifically  that it is essential for a citizen-based steering committee to lead the visioning process  NOT the planning department. 

For updates from the city on the visioning process use this link.

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:
      • What size development would leave Riverside with the capacity to accommodate new MBTA services including the Indigo line or expanded bus service?
      • What level of increased traffic is Grove Street capable of accommodating without creating gridlock in Lower Falls , Auburndale, and important intersections in the neighborhood?
      • What are the real needs for housing in Newton? 
      • What resources could harnessed to increase the percentage of affordable housing units beyond the required 12%?
      • What the role can commercial housing models like ‘turnkey' apartments, urban dorms, etc. play in a housing mix.
      • What city resources would be required to meet the needs of the new residents of the development and the adjacent neighborhoods of Lower Falls and Auburndale?
      • What would a truly walkable "20-minute neighborhood" with access to housing, schools, recreation, and essential services – look like?
      • How can access to open space and recreation be assured?
      • How would this new neighborhood be integrated into the social and political fabric of Lower Falls and Auburndale?
      • How would Ward 4 representation be changed by this development?
      • Given these issues what would the optimal design of the site be?
For an explanation of visioning please download Community Visioning

In response to the petition requested by the Lower Falls Community and filed by the three Ward 4 Councilors the city Panning Department developed an Request for Proposals which was submitted to the following list of consultants for response on  12-28-2018:

  1. Consensus Building Institute
  2. Goody-Clancy
  3. CivicMoxie
  4. Union Studios
  5. Metropolitan Area Planning Council

On January 17th the selection Committee agreed to hire CivicMoxie.  Because of the short duration allowed by the city administration for the visioning process the steering committee was not included in the scope.

Riverside Visioning – Planning Consultant Services Scope of Work

City of Newton Planning and Development Department

Project Goal:              

To develop a vision plan for the future development of Riverside Station

Project Overview:        

The City of Newton seeks consultant services to develop a Vision Plan for Riverside Station. Development of a mixed-use project at the Riverside Station was approved years ago by the MBTA, who operates not only the Green Line terminus at the station but also a maintenance facility and bus terminal. The development team has expanded to include new members, and the project has grown to encompass the neighboring property at the Indigo Hotel.

With a Special Permit application anticipated this spring, the City of Newton seeks to reengage stakeholders in the neighborhood, city, and region in order to clarify its objectives for the site. The selected team will work closely with the City of Newton Planning Department to lead a community engagement process and produce a Vision Plan for Riverside report that illustrates the City’s principles and priorities for the future of the site. The final vision plan will support staff and the City Council during their review of the upcoming project.  

Project Time frame:      

10 weeks from January – March 2019


A Vision Plan for Riverside outlining the City of Newton’s principles for development and priorities for community benefits for any future development of the Riverside terminal site

Key Skill Sets:              

Cross-sector experience of planning topics, land use development and project feasibility, community engagement and facilitation

Task List:

    • Stakeholder analysis and interviews
    • Site conditions analysis
    • Community engagement process
    • Vision Plan report preparation

Objectives for each task:          

Task 1: Stakeholder Analysis and Interviews

Riverside is understood to be a site with neighborhood, citywide, and regional implications.

The task is to identify stakeholders (neighborhood, citywide, and regional), conduct interviews, collect data, and identify the range of perspectives and priorities for the Riverside site. During this process, the stakeholder analysis should identify the main interests on the issues, and the options that stakeholders see for addressing the issues.

Task 2: Site Conditions Analysis

The site is partially under private ownership and partially owned by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. It currently operates as the terminal station of the Green Line “D” branch and as an intercity bus terminal. The site has limited access with boundaries that include the Charles River, the I-95/Rte-128 highway, and a rail line spur.

The task is to analyze the existing site conditions (assets and challenges) including the development constraints set by the Mass DOT rail operations and lease or sale requirements to understand the required features for any future project.

Also important will be analysis/understanding of the location as it relates to the larger community and the region, particularly in terms of the local and regional transportation network.

Task 3: Community Engagement Process

The City of Newton believes strongly in community dialogue about the future of the site and sees visioning as an opportunity to clarify the City’s objectives for any future development with direct feedback from residents and other stakeholders.

The task is to organize and lead a 3-phase community process with a combination of public meetings and online community engagement efforts to identify principles for development of the site and priorities for community benefits. The task includes preparation of all engagement materials and presentations.

The estimated phase structure is as follows (to be finalized in conjunction with the selected consultant):

        • Engagement Part 1: Listening and Learning – reporting out on stakeholder analysis and site conditions, hearing from community members about their concerns and priorities for the site
        • Engagement Part 2: Draft principles for development and community benefit ideas – pulling from the stakeholder and public engagement activities, present a draft set of development principles and community benefits for feedback and assistance with prioritization (online and in person engagement are anticipated)
        • Engagement Part 3: Vision Plan presentation – Present the final report first in a public forum and then at a City Council meeting

Task 4: Vision Plan Report Preparation

The final Vision Plan report is expected to document the findings of the stakeholder analysis, site conditions analysis, and community dialogue about objectives for future development. As with other vision plans completed by the City, the Riverside Vision Plan will serve as a resource for the Planning Department, City Council, and the public when considering the details of any proposed future development or zoning amendment. 

This task includes preparing a well written and graphically illustrated report.

Anticipated Topic Lists

Topics anticipated to be covered include, but are not limited to:

      • Principles and priorities for transit-oriented development
          • Encompassing the active rail-maintenance facility in any future development
          • Site planning to promote transit use (bus, light-rail, intercity bus, potential commuter rail, etc.)
  • Housing diversity and affordability, including a variety of income levels, and new housing models (e.g. serviced micro-units and shared apartments, private dorms, artist live/work units, etc.)
  • Principles and priorities for riverfront development
      • storm-water management
      • open space access and trail networks
  • Principles and priorities for neighborhood- connected development
      • walk-able connections
      • traffic management/mitigation
      • enhancing connected social fabric – public gathering spaces (indoor/outdoor), schools and services for children and older adults, neighborhood serving retail/services
  • Principles and priorities for community design
  • Scale
      • Relationship to greater neighborhood character
  • Potential for significant architectural features

City of Newton Staff Support

The City of Newton Planning and Development Department will be very actively involved in the execution of this work. Due in large part to the previous special permit, the City has access to a wealth of data and information about the site. Planning department staff will provide the selected team with background research, available GIS data, and other materials as needed. Staff will work with the City Councilors representing Ward 4 to line up an initial list of stakeholders for interviews. Staff will also be the convener of the community engagement events, managing meeting logistics and online engagement platforms, and advertising to key stakeholder groups and the public at large. 

Submission Requirements & Selection Process

The City of Newton is soliciting quotes for the Riverside Visioning effort. In order to move quickly to community engagement and stakeholder interviews, this project is intended to complete contracting and begin work by mid-January 2019.

Respondents are requested to send the following by January 8th, 2019:

    • A brief introduction to the firm (1-page maximum)
    • Resume for project lead

Respondents will be asked to attend an interview with the selection committee in the afternoon of January 16th or 17th and discuss/present how they would approach the project. 

The selection committee is comprised of:

    • City of Newton Chief Administrative Officer
    • City of Newton Director of Planning and Development
    • City of Newton Deputy Director of Planning
    • City Councilor from Ward 4
    • Neighborhood Representative (Lower Falls)
    • Neighborhood Representative (Auburndale)

The Selection Committee reserves the right to select more than one consultant in order to have the range of expertise deemed necessary. Following selection, the selected respondent(s) will work with City staff to finalize a detailed scope of services including a price proposal that will serve as the basis for contracting.

On 1-3-2019 the Newton Tab published the following article raising concerns about the proposed visioning process:


The Boston Globe covered the Visioning Process (Jan 10, 2019): https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/globelocal/2019/01/18/newton-launches-vision-process-for-potential-riverside-development/5QQ6KUW3EwBYlxks0nQ5hP/story.html

91 Cornell St.                           

Newton Lower Falls, MA


Contact Us@newtonlowerfalls.org

The Newton Lower Falls Improvement Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software