Monitoring Open Spaces
People often wonder: Just what
do Newton Conservators do?
Some people have mistaken us for
a “conservative” organization. While the
Newton Conservators are not a political
organization, we are conservative about one
thing. We want to protect open space in
Newton. There is precious little open space
left in our community, and our organization
wants to protect as much of it as possible.
Newton Conservators own several parcels
of land in Newton. Ordway Park, Awtrey
Dell and Prospect Park were donated to our
land trust. Newton Conservators also hold
conservation restrictions on open spaces they do not own including Angino Farm,
Wilmerding, Newton Commonwealth
Golf Course, Webster Park and the path
near Levingston Cove at Crystal Lake.
Conservation restrictions make sure land
will be protected as open space in the
future. Newton Conservators don’t just hold
conservation restriction paperwork in their
files. Members visit these properties regularly
to make sure conservation restrictions are
In 2013, Newton Conservators also hired
Massachusetts Audubon Society to do a
field visit of eight properties in Newton.
Volunteers from our board of directors went
along on these field visits with Liz Newlands
from Massachusetts Audubon Society. Next
year our land trust will continue with Liz’s
work, and our volunteers will do site visits
on their own. Each month at our board
meetings, our volunteers will give brief
presentations about their adopted open
spaces. Our board of directors wants to be
aware how each property is doing.
Some of these open spaces need more regular
maintenance than others. Ordway Park is on
the corner of Grant and Everett Street. For
safety reasons, Ordway Park will be visited
by an arborist for trimming dead wood; the
paths need to be cleared of fallen limbs; the
grass must be mowed and mulched; path
surfaces need regular replenishing.
Newton Conservators want to keep these
opens spaces safe and attractive for the public
to enjoy. When you pay annual membership
dues or make a contribution to Newton
Conservators, your funds help maintain
Newton’s open spaces.
Invasive plant removal is another task tackled
by Newton Conservators’ volunteers.
Ordway Park used to be filled with Euonymus
alatus, often called burning bush or winged euonymus,
which is listed
on Invasive Plant
Atlas of New
alatus has been
is banned in
Euonymus alatus is illegal to sell, propagate or transport in
Massachusetts. Ordway Park volunteers spent many hours
eradicating Euonymus alatus along with other invasive plants.
Keeping invasive species from over-running Ordway Park is
an ongoing effort. If you still have Euonymus alatus growing
on your property, please remove it, to help stop these
invasive plants from spreading into our open spaces.
I enjoyed going along on the conservation restriction
site visits with Liz Newlands and our volunteers. It was a
pleasure to be outdoors enjoying these open spaces. Newton
Commonwealth Golf Course is a very large open space
being preserved for future generations. Its conservation
restriction guarantees the land won’t be developed and filled
with house lots or office buildings. While on our walk, I
learned that Newton’s residents can cross country ski there
in the winter. With its big open stretches and rolling hills,
skiing there would be a fun adventure.
On our visit to Newton Commonwealth Golf Course, we
found evidence of illegal dumping: a pile of asphalt in a
wooded area near a fairway. Dumping is prohibited by the
conservation restriction, and the debris must be removed.
An attractive new bridge has been added to one of the
golf course paths. From this bridge you can look down
into a low hollow. It would be a pretty view, but the trees
were buried in invasive vines, Celastrus orbiculatus, Oriental
bittersweet, and Polygonum perfoliatum, mile-a-minute weed.
Removing these vines and trying to keep them out of
Newton Commonwealth Golf Course’s property will be
difficult and time-consuming.
Most residents in Newton are already familiar with Crystal
Lake. Perhaps you didn’t know there is now a public path
along the waterfront behind the architecturally interesting
residence at 230 Lake Avenue. This path connects Levingston
Cove with the new lawn and picnic area near the swimming
pavilion on Rogers Street. Newton Conservators worked
with the City on the conservation restriction that created
this public right of way. The Conservators’ board is
considering whether to add a sign so that visitors to the lake
will know where the path is.
During Newton Conservators’ site visit at Angino Farm, we
saw the new handicap-accessible roadside vegetable stand
on Winchester Street. Angino Farm’s barn is undergoing
extensive renovations. We observed the progress of the fruit
trees planted along the boundary fence in memory of Carol
Lee Corbett, a past Newton Conservators’ board member.
The chicken yard was very active.
Webster Park (not to be confused with Webster
Conservation Land) is a small woodland area overlooking
Dolan Pond Conservation Area. Boy Scout Troop 355
created a woodland path, called Irene’s Path, which winds
along an edge of Dolan Pond’s red maple swamp. There is an
inviting bench at the end of the path. The path was named
in memory of Irene Forté, the former property owner who
arranged with Newton Conservators to allocate parcels
including open space and Habitat for Humanity housing.
Wilmerding is contiguous to Webster Conservation Land,
adding to the largest conservation area in Newton. You can
access Wilmerding and Webster Conservation Land from
Elgin Road in Newton Centre.
All of the open spaces in this article are open to the
public. They are listed in the latest edition of our Newton
Conservators’ Walking Trails book and in the Newton
Conservators’ Almanac, which are available on our website.
Awtrey Dell and Prospect
Park are not very inviting
for us humans, but they
make good animal habitat.
With more funds, we
could remove invasive
plants on these properties
and replant them with
appropriate native species.
plants is allowed under
Having the money and
time to do the work is the problem. The most worrisome
culprits in Awtrey and Prospect Park are Norway maples.
Norway maples were originally planted as street trees. The
city did not realize how aggressively they would invade
our open spaces and our house lots. The dense foliage of
Norway maple shades out native plants.
Remember, our open spaces need to be treated with respect.
Yard waste and leaves should never be dumped into our
open spaces. Dumping is prohibited. It suffocates plants and
makes a mess of our open spaces. Please go out there, and
enjoy our properties and let us know what you find. And
help us keep them attractive. Your participation, and Newton
Conservators membership dues and donations, really do
make a difference.
Beth Schroeder, President