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Kesseler Woods Update

March 2004 update

The purchase of Kesseler Woods by the city and its development partner, Cornerstone Corporation, from NStar in January was postponed because of a new requirement imposed by the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy. DTE halted the transaction until it can hold a hearing to review NStar's plans for distributing the proceeds of the sale to its customers. This hearing is currently scheduled to be held in March. If all goes well, the closing is expected to occur in early April.

Meanwhile, the Conservators, under the leadership of Cris Criscitiello, Jon Regosin and Eric Reenstierna, have been working with Cornerstone to map out a proposed trail through the area that will not be built on by the developer. As currently conceived, the trail would cross Vine Street from the southern parcel and proceed in the direction of South Branch, an annual stream that enters the property from LaGrange Street . This waterway separates the portion of the northern parcel that the city will own (the portion south of this stream) from the part that Cornerstone will own. Since the area from South Brook north to a rocky ledge that roughly demarcates the buildable upland portion of the property along LaGrange Street is not conducive to construction (it is either protected wetland or too steep for building), the trail is proposed to cross South Branch and continue to and along the base of the rocky outcropping of Roxbury puddingstone.

Atop this ledge is a community of plants that Jon Regosin, a biologist and Conservators director, say is rare in Newton . It contains a variety of mosses and lichens, as well as a wonderful view Sawmill Brook below and a large portion of the protected wetland that will be donated to the city by Cornerstone through a conservation restriction. Ideally, the edge of this ledge would be preserved to allow a branch of the trail to reach the top of the outcropping and for walkers to enjoy the view as well as the special character of the plant life.

From the ledge, the trail would wind westward toward Sawmill Brook, with which South Branch connects. It would follow Sawmill Brook, a perennial stream, toward the Brookline town line. There is an opportunity for a bridge across Sawmill Brook to enable walkers to connect to Harwich Road , which connects to Brookline Street on the opposite side of the property.

Cornerstone has committed $90,000 for the construction of trails and other amenities. Their representative has been receptive to suggestions by the Conservators about the location of trails and the nature of amenities. Those conversations are expected to continue in conjunction with city officials.

Doug Dickson, with input from Cris Criscitiello

Photos by Doug Dickson


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