I can't do actual tracks, as with Newton Villages Alliance yourlisten.com audio, but if you click on the link below the screen capture, to play the video directly from Vimeo, you will see track points of different topics of discussion are included in the description. When the video has buffered sufficiently, you can jump forward or backward to any point in the timeline, but I recommend listening the whole way through!
In evaluating distances from these videos, it's important to note that, because I'm standing close to people so I can pick up audio, and because the autofocus is broken on the longer focal length of my wide-angle zoom lens, this is mostly shot at a very wide angle focal length. This makes faraway objects appear even more far away, and smaller, than they would in person.
You can judge for yourself, but a couple of things I found most striking: 1) Austin Street Partners (ASP) representatives were not able to mark where the actual building (upper floors, as opposed to footprint) ended in the back ("We couldn't figure that out . . . That requires a little level of engineering that we weren't able to do"); 2) their uncertainty over how far the curb would move out, narrowing Austin Street ("Is it four feet or is it a foot?"); and 3) the general surprise/dissatisfaction evident among the alders that basic information seemed to be unavailable, vague, or in the case of the driveway location, contradictory.
A couple of substantive comments of my own:
First, ASP and the city seem to be trying to have it both ways, double counting Bram Way's benefits, when it can only be one thing at a time. They're counting Bram Way from Austin Street as a third means of access for the public, and a way for trucks serving the businesses that back onto Bram Way to get in/out without turning around to use the back entrance. But they want to get credit for Bram Way being open space, by raising it with pavers to discourage the public from actually using it as an entrance. And putting the responsibility on the city to literally close it for events. But the rest of the time it's not actually closed, so the safety concerns raised by a resident near the end of Part 2, that the architect calls "interesting," seem valid.
Second, while trees may not be anyone's top concern, they're one of my big interests, and I wonder if the designers have really thought out what they're doing on the Austin Street side. If the utility wires along the sidewalk are not put underground -- and ASP seems to be saying, if the city wants it done, the city, not ASP, will have to pay for it -- then you can't plant large-maturing shade trees along the street side. But that's what you need to plant if you want to eventually have trees with a canopy above truck clearance height. The species we plant as underwire trees, like crabapples, serviceberries and Amur maackia, tend to have a wider form, and the lower limbs will need to be pruned or they'll be hit by trucks. Or as Gwen suggested, you can plant trees with a vertical form. But the species that I think of -- English oak, columnar sweetgum (MIT has a beautiful row near the Athletic Center), and Newton Sentry sugar maple (but probably not salt-tolerant) are large-maturing species in height. If there are any short, narrow species, they wouldn't provide much of a green canopy.