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NEWTON

Newton awarded state grant for Needham Street, Upper Falls infrastructure improvements

Newton City Hall.
Newton City Hall.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Newton will receive a nearly $400,000 state grant for infrastructure work on Needham Street and in Upper Falls, Governor Charlie Baker announced Feb. 20, according to a statement.

The MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program award will be used to make improvements in the Pettee Square commercial district and extend the Upper Falls Greenway Trail, which will allow pedestrians and cyclists better access to Needham Street, the statement said.

“I’m grateful that with the Governor’s help we can begin the design and engineering of two important transportation and neighborhood improvement projects in Newton Upper Falls,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in the statement.

The improvements will be adjacent to a $30 million project by the state Department of Transportation to upgrade Needham Street and Highland Avenue, according to the statement.

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“The MassWorks program allows our administration to make targeted investments in public infrastructure that stimulates significant private funding toward new housing production, commercial development, and job creation,” Baker said in the statement.

The area is near the proposed site for Northland Investment Corp.'s mixed-use development at the corner of Needham and Oak streets. The MassWorks project complements Northland’s development with enhanced pedestrian access to the site, the statement said.

Northland’s project was approved by the Newton City Council in December, and opponents of the project organized an effort to bring the development to a citywide vote on March 3.

Voters will be asked whether they approve of the zoning changes needed for Northland’s development to move forward.

A local group opposed to the project, the Committee for Responsible Development, recently filed a complaint against Fuller with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance in connection with the grant.

The group alleged Fuller violated campaign finance law by asking for the state’s help in trying to influence voters to back the project.

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A city spokeswoman said Fuller was being proactive in seeking the grant money for Newton improvements.







John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.