Riverside – what’s going on?

What is Riverside? No, not the T station over there in Newton, but a new-meets-old business complex right at the nexus of Mass Pike and Route 128, the former site of Liberty Mutual. It might better by called Trackside or Freeway Crossing. In spite of being a stone’s throw from the Charles, there is no actual way to get to the river or even the T station (there will be a shuttle).

What’s the proposal? A home for a life sciences company — I am beginning to feel the walls closing in–isn’t Astra Zeneca on our Waltham border? Maybe we’ll get advance vaccinations as a benefit. I digress. This is a proposal for new laboratory space, spiffed up buildings, fitness center and “improved outdoor space”! At least, that’s what it says on the map. I don’t know how much time the scientists have for sitting outside on benches, but they should have the opportunity like the rest of us.

Image from 1/26/2021 presentation to Select Board

Things that don’t make sense to me besides the name: What’s with all the bicycle storage? Where is everyone bicycling to or from? Why is the Grab&Go Cafe on top of the tracks? Oh wait, no it’s in the fitness center. That is a big fitness center. I need to see the membership requirements on that before I leave Lifetime Fitness.

On a more serious note, there are some salient points here. Select Board member Harvey Boshart had requested prior to this meeting and during it that the developer look into building some housing on a portion of the campus. This would help with town goals of affordable housing in a place that would minimize impact to Weston’s streets. A zoning bylaw amendment would require a 2/3 vote at Town Meeting in the spring–which might not be easy if the Town doesn’t see enough benefit. The developer was asked to look at 60-80 units there. Select Board Chair Laurie Bent also commented that the developer should look at housing options.

In case the developer missed the two folks speaking up on the idea of housing, Alicia Primer, Chair of Planning Board, also commented to say the Planning Board was hoping to see some attempt at housing put in at the site. If the Riverside developer has not heard this enough times, let it be seen here that perhaps they should consider putting in some housing. There I’ve said it.

SB Chair Laurie Bent also mentioned that it would be nice to have a footpath/sidewalk/bridge that would get people to the Riverside T station. Recreation Road was mentioned. The developer says it’s out of their hands, which is so very true–but it seems that Town of Weston and the developer working together could put some pressure on. Climate change is real, and so is the opportunity to make this climate-friendlier. Also, have we mentioned all the bike storage?

Looks like a public meeting with Planning Board will be scheduled in February/March. Watch this space.

Select Board meeting recording available at: https://weston.vod.castus.tv/vod/?video=e374714c-3c9a-48b9-b394-578263db140a.

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