Spring Issue April 1997
Inside this Issue
From the President 1-2
Annual Meeting 3-4
Report of the Nominating Committee 4
IPM for Newton 2
Nahanton Park Meadow 5
Nahanton Park Dumping 5
Free Trees 8
Spring Walks 9
Board of Aldermen 6
Newton Street Tree Survey Needs Volunteers 7
Membership Form 9
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members and Friends:
Environmental issues are once again reaching higher levels on government agendas. After so many years of frustration during which our issues arise only to be tabled or buried, there seems to be a new responsive-ness in legislatures and executive branches to the public's concern about the condition of our environment and the disappearance or pollution of our open spaces and waters. Unrestricted development at any cost is no longer as acceptable as it has been.
The U. S. House of Representatives, having heard the public outcry against attempts to dismantle our clean air, clean water, forest management and other similar laws, is finally appearing to be less responsive to requests of oil, ranching, mining and industrial lobbies and is stepping back or moving cautiously.
After many years, our state government has passed a Rivers Act, ostensibly to protect a zone within 200 feet of perennial waterways from pollution-causing development. However, it appears already that the Department of Environmental Protection may be watering the act down by its guidance document which may reduce the protected zone to 100 feet. A homeowners' lobby has filed bills to weaken the act further. Clearly, even laws themselves, which are intended to provide safeguards to our environment, need vigilant and ongoing protection.
Another worthwhile state proposal is an "enabling" bill which would allow municipal or county governments to impose a tax of up to 2% on real estate transactions (after the first $100,000). These funds would go into a local "land bank" where the money would be earmarked for acquisition of lands to be used for open, undeveloped space. Newton and other communities would be able to increase their open space and park lands without the drain on capital budgets and without the combative process currently involved. This would be a truly wonderful thing.
Our own Senator Lois Pines continues to be a stalwart protector of our environment as the chair of the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture. She has sponsored bills providing for safeguards from toxic pesticide use and expansion of the bottle bill.
Abandoned industrial sites have been a source of troubling concern. The sites are now dubbed "brownfields." They can be valuable lands available for redevelopment, but cleanup costs and liabilities have stifled their use. Industry groups have tried to limit liability and cleanup costs for the original polluters, so new developers are reluctant to take on unknown liabilities. Economic development of these sites in a responsible and appropriate manner is desirable. A new bill has been introduced in the state legislature to protect new investment in economically distressed areas while holding prior polluters responsible for cleanup costs. This is a complicated issue, but the outcome could have many benefits.
Newton itself is undergoing self-evaluation in terms of its own lands and open spaces. The capping of the Rumford Avenue dump, the removal of the obsolete incinerator, the purchase of private property to add to our park lands--with more to come--all bode well for our city. Further, we expect that the position of environmental planner for the City which is now part-time will be made full time, allowing for long -needed supervision of our open spaces. The city is involved with private groups in a program to reduce toxic pesticide use in our public places. (See the article about IPM on page 4.) A process is in place to find a new Director of Planning for the city, and our hope and expectation is that the new director will be a person of vision who will put as much emphasis on the planning part of the job as on the development part. The Board of Aldermen and its committees as well as the Mayor's Office are showing a new responsiveness to our environmental and open space issues.
There are changes in the wind, but what has not changed is the never ending conflict between the commercial and industrial interests for unrestricted development and the environmentalists desire to keep all space natural and untouched. While neither position is tenable in this day and age, we can hope for a reasonable balance between responsible development and land protected in its natural state for passive recreation.
While hoping for that may feel good, what is required is the work to make it happen. The Newton Conservators, the Green Decade Coalition, the League of Women Voters and many neighborhood associations and garden clubs have been working hard towards that end. Each in our own way advocate for protected open space, toxic waste reduction, water resource cleanup, acquisition of new land and all the things which keep Newton healthful and beautiful.
Our successes occur when our decision
makers know that we have a vocal, voting constituency backing up our words. It
is imperative that our members show interest and support by attending Aldermanic
committee meetings and writing or calling their aldermen and the Mayor on
critical issues. Our officials are elected to be responsive to the needs and
desires of the citizens, but they must know what our desires are. Voices from
commercial interests are loud and well paid. We must balance that with our
numbers. Be active, be involved and we will be heard!
(Editor's Note: A list of the members
of the Board of Aldermen is on page 6.)
The Newton: Conservators Newsletter appears occasionally. President: Burton Elliott. Production: Bonnie Carter, 969-0686 and Colleen Minaker. We wish to thank the contributors to this edition of the Newsletter: CRWA, Paula Chasan, Judy Hepburn, Peter Kastner, Beth McDermott, Doug Dickson, Burton Elliott, Janet MacLeod. We also wish to thank Newton Communications Access Center, Inc., NewTV, for the use of its word-processing equipment.
Stream Teams conduct Shoreline Surveys, or visual surveys, to identify problems such as non-point source pollution, erosion, and sedimentation, and to identify assets such as important habitat, historical sites, possible trails and canoe access sites, and undeveloped land that should be protected. After the survey, team members meet and identify priorities along the river and develop an Action Plan. Stream Teams then work with municipal officials, regulatory agencies and environmental groups to implement the Action Plans.
Team members receive training from the Massachusetts Riverways Program and include a variety of volunteers-landowners, businesses, municipal officials, civic organizations, schools and people who use the river (canoists, anglers, hikers, naturalists). As a group of potential voters and taxpayers, Stream Teams can be quite successful in implementing their Action Plans.
1. Business Meeting:
Annual Report of the Treasurer
Report of the Audit Committee
Report of the President
Report of the Nominating Committee
Election of Officers and Directors
2. Recognition of Past Presidents
3. Presentation of the Environmentalist of the Year Award to Dianne Dumanoski
Jennifer M. Huntington: "Volunteerism, Advocacy and How Things Happen"
Questions and Answers
The following slate of officers and directors has been presented by the nominating committee.
Officers: President: Michael Clarke Secretary: Sally Flynn
Vice President: Douglas Dickson Past President: Burton Elliott
Treasurer: Nicholas Yannoni
Directors: Margaret Albright Roger Feinstein Colleen Minaker
Stephanie Bacon William Hagar Norman Richardson
James Broderick Bart Hague Martin Sender
Bonnie Carter Judith Hepburn Vaunita Schnell
Michael Collora Frank Howard
Carol Lee Corbett Peter Kastner
Advisors: (Elected by the Board)
AnnaMaria Abernathy Deborah Howard Richard Primack
Lisle Baker Jean Husher Frances Seasholes
John Bliss William Jones William Stevenson
Thelma Fleishman Lawrence Kaplan William Shaevel
Helen Heyn William Leitch Virginia Taplin
Fiora Houghteling George Mansfield Verne Vance
Through the open door of room 222 at City Hall, you might have overheard, had you been nearby on many of the Friday mornings this year, a small but vocal group haggling through the details of Newton's new IPM policy. This policy, nearing its final stage of development, will soon be announced as the first and most comprehensive of its kind in the Commonwealth.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a problem-solving approach to landscape and building management designed to prevent and control undesirable weeds, insects, fungi and rodents. IPM relies on information about environmental conditions, the dynamics of human behavior, and pest biology to prevent, resist and control pests that interfere with the purpose and use of a specific site. When a particular pest exceeds a particular threshold at a particular site, a full range of pest control strategies is employed, with an emphasis on modifying the habitat, modifying maintenance practices, and modifying user behavior. If all else fails, pesticides may be used, but only as a last resort, and only within specific guidelines for selection and use of least-toxic chemicals.
IPM has been around for years, but it is coming into greater acceptance as an alternative to widespread use of chemicals to control pests, both in the landscape and in buildings. Concern about the impact of pesticides on health-directly through breathing, drinking, ingesting or skin absorption of toxic products or through delayed exposures from contaminated soil, food, air, water, utensils and toys-is driving much of the renewed interest in IPM.
The most obvious goal of IPM is to reduce the use of pesticides to as low a level as is possible and practical. But there are other, equally compelling reasons to employ this common-sense approach. The benefits of prevention are forever codified in the adage that begins, "an ounce of. . ." Prevention is a central theme of IPM, reducing or eliminating the factors that attract pests. In the landscape, the same practices that prevent pests also yield stronger, more sustainable plants, trees, shrubs and turf. They also allow and rely upon beneficial plants and insects to work their magic. Stronger plants live longer and require less maintenance, reducing both maintenance and replacement costs.
By adopting an IPM policy, the City of Newton acknowledges its obligation to model environmentally responsible practices and to accrue the financial benefits of planning and prevention in maintaining high-quality parks, playgrounds and open spaces. The city also recognizes its responsibility to prevent the contamination of soil, air and water, and to protect its citizens from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The IPM policy workgroup is a collaborative effort of the departments of Health and Parks and Recreation, GreenCAP, Youth Soccer, Newton Commonwealth Golf Course and the Phil Mastroianni Corporation, working with leadership and guidance from the Landscape Maintenance Task Force. Other city departments and community groups will be included as the policy is finalized over the next several weeks.
More information about IPM is available in the library or can be obtained from GreenCAP (call Ellie Goldberg at 965-9637).
A workshop on IPM, called "Don't Spray
'Em-Outsmart 'Em," will be held at the Parish of St. Paul in Newton Highlands on
Tuesday, May 13 from 7:30-9:00
PM. Call the Green Decade Coalition at 965-1995 for information and
registration. This workshop is part of a community education program sponsored
by Green Decade and supported by the Newton Conservators, along with the
Conservation Commission, the Newton Board of Health and the Parks and Recreation
Ground-breaking has been delayed by the "April Fool's blizzard," but the hillside meadow at Nahanton Park, between the upper and lower community gardens, will soon sprout two or more experimental horticultural plots. The intent is to beautify the park through the introduction of a wider variety of meadow wildflowers. Permeable horticultural fabric will be used as an ecologically-friendly approach that provides a good measure of weed suppression while allowing wildflower plugs to become established.
In 1992, when the Nahanton Meadow Project first began, frequent summer mowing of this area was abandoned in favor of a once-a-year, late fall mowing. However, poor soil conditions have supported the rampant growth of an alien species in the Artemesia family that has proven very difficult to eradicate and competes aggressively against other species. As a result, past efforts to introduce native meadow plants have met with only limited success. By nurturing plants along in smaller, well-defined plots under weed-blocking fabric, we may begin to reclaim this land for our more colorful, native varieties.
The Friends of Nahanton Park invites the
community to help in this multiyear effort. If you can offer suggestions,
provide seedlings or other contributions, help with planting and watering, or
have any interests in meadow establishment please write to: Friends of Nahanton
Park, 70 Crescent Street, Auburndale, MA 02166 or call Judy Hepburn (964-1137),
Paula Chasan (965-2752) or Frank Howard (244-7269).
As soon as the snow melted after the April 1 blizzard, Newton's Dept. of Public Works trucks began hauling the south side's downed tree limbs and brush to Nahanton Park and gave permission to private landscapers/contractors to do the same. Since creating this huge debris mound, the DPW has continued to use the park for a noisy on-site chipping operation, filling the paved parking areas with piles of wood chips. All of this is happening in the middle of a unique and beautiful park that is critical to wildlife in our city.
The Friends of Nahanton Park understand that the City was facing an unusual and difficult problem. However, the City had made a commitment to the Friends after the winter of 1994 when, in a more pressing snow emergency, the DPW had used the park as a dumping grounds for giant mounds of snow mixed with asphalt and road debris. Verbal assurance had been given that Nahanton Park would never again be used to solve the City's public works problems. As the Friends pointed out in 1994, the DPW's Eliot Street facility had ample space for temporary storm-related storage and there had never been a valid reason to misuse Nahanton Park in the first place.
The April Fool's Day blizzard was clearly not a crisis equal in magnitude to the snow removal problem of 1994. The City 's decision to dump at Nahanton was made more deliberatively, after the immediate crisis was over and the snow melted. Once again the logical alternative, using the Eliot Street site, was not taken.
The precedent that the City's behavior sets to landscapers, who are eager to find free dump sites, is the most disturbing feature of the solution it chose. It was this very problem, dumping at the park by landscapers and others who defaced the beauty of the area, that brought the Friends of Nahanton Park to work collaboratively with Commissioner Halloran and other Parks and Recreation staff, to produce a proposal for capital funding to beautify the Winchester Street entrance and to limit vehicle access on several of the dirt roads. This proposal, successfully voted on by the Board of Aldermen in March, is designed to prevent the very behavior that, sadly, the City now appears to be endorsing and encouraging.
The impact of the City's dumping on the
park's wildlife is not yet known. The huge brush pile was a magnet for sparrows,
attracting one uncommon migrant: a Vesper Sparrow. However, transient birds
cannot make up for potential harm to the park's breeders at a critical time in
spring. The site of the DPW's dumping-and-chipping operation is an open meadow
used by male American Woodcocks for their evening courtship flights, and
Nahanton is the only place within city limits where woodcock breed. Perhaps more
significantly, just a week or two before the blizzard an anonymous donor
generously constructed and installed a "bluebird trail" for the park. Almost as
soon as the boxes were up, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds arrived to investigate.
If they are not driven out by the noise and disruption of the DPW operations,
which are only a few feet away from one of the boxes, Nahanton may become the
second nesting site for bluebirds within the Route 128
ALDERMEN-AT-LARGE WARD 1 WARD ALDERMEN
Robert E. Gerst Carleton P. Merrill Theresa M. O'Halloran
51 Claremont Street 15 Newtonville Avenue 8 Jackson Terrace
Newton, MA 02158 Newton 02158 Newton 02158
Home: 965-0658 Home: 244-2421 Home: 527-0516
Allan L. Ciccone Dennis V. Maguire Robert K. Antonellis
105 Fair Oaks Avenue 38 Grove Hill Avenue 15 Lothrop Street
Newtonville 02160 Newtonville 02160 Newton 02158
Home: 332-5466 Home: 527-5805 332-1094
Richard J. Bullwinkle Leonard J. Gentile Anthony J. Salvucci
15 Lindbergh Avenue 214 Adams Avenue 23 Eddy Street
West Newton 02165 West Newton 02165 West Newton 02165
Home: 527-7067 Home: 527-5446 Home: 244-2509
Richard J. McGrath Roderick MacLeish, Jr. D. Pauline Bryson
1617 Washington Street 18 Myrtle Avenue 11 Acorn Drive
West Newton 02165 Auburndale 02166 Auburndale 02166
Office: 332-3339 Home: 332-6528 Home: 244-0932
Paul E. Coletti Brian E. Yates Christine Samuelson
34 Columbia Avenue 1094 Chestnut Street 185 Winslow Road
Newton UF 02164 Newton UF 02164 Waban 02168
Home: 965-3654 Home: 244-2601 Home: 244-8789
Susan M. Basham Kenneth R. L. Parker George E. Mansfield
67 Fisher Avenue 69A Norwood Avenue 312 Lake Avenue
Newton Highlands 02161 Newton Centre 02159 Newton Highlands 02161
Home: 965-5139 Home: 965-3723 Home: 969-1479
Brooke K. Lipsitt Sydra Schnipper R. Lisle Baker
36 Billings Park 273 Ward Street 137 Suffolk Road
Newton 02158 Newton Centre 02159 Chestnut Hill 02167
Home: 965-0107 Home: 965-2331 Home: 566-3848
Vacant due to the death Richard A. Lipof Fay G. Cohen
of Wendell R. Bauckman. 35 Hartman Road 15 Cottonwood Road
Special election to be held Newton Centre 02159 Newton Centre 02159
on June 3, 1997. Home: 332-8729 Home: 527-6219
Office: 332-8909 Office: 722-1639
The Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Russell J. Halloran, and the Urban Tree Task Force of the City of Newton, would like to invite you to participate in a program of off-berm tree planting.
Nearby communities have for years provided trees to residential property owners, but Newton has always planted its shade trees in the street berm ( the space between the sidewalk and the street). The Parks and Recreation Department plants about 200 trees each year. A number of these street berm trees are lost mainly due to the restricted soil area and restricted area for the tree's root system to achieve its full growth capacity in narrow street berms.
We are continuing the off-berm street tree planting program to insure healthier and longer-lived trees. Homeowners may select one or two trees from a list of handsome and hardy tree species. The tree and tree planting will be done at no cost to the homeowner.
If you choose to take part in this program, you will have a chance to consult with Richard Metro, the City's Superintendent of Urban Forestry, and James Broderick, Chairman of the Urban Tree Committee, about your selection of a tree and the location that you would like the tree planted in your front yard, generally within 10 feet of the City's sidewalk area. At no cost to you, an approved landscape contractor will be responsible for the proper installation of your selected balled and burlapped tree, which will be 1_ to 2 inches in caliper and some 12 to 14 feet high depending on tree species. Thereafter, you will be responsible for its care.
Since there is a very high interest in this program of free trees, participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. The actual planting will begin in October, depending on the availability and delivery of the trees.
If you are interested in acquiring a free
tree in this program, please contact the Newton Parks and Recreation Department,
70 Crescent Street, Newton, MA 02166 by mail or by telephone
Saturday, April 26, 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Ordway Park Clean up
This neighborhood park at the corner of
Grant and Everett Street belongs to the Newton Conservators, and was the gift of
Miss Priscilla Ordway. Help is needed to clean up Winter's toil and litter.
Bring gloves and small tools and see the daffodils planted last fall. Call Carol
Lee Corbett ( 332-4015) Conservators board member.
Sunday, May 11, 8:00 AM
Mother's Day Bird Walk--Nahanton Park
Woodlands, wetlands and meadows make this
a wonderful place for spring birding. Meet at the park's Nature Center. Enter
the park at the Nahanton St. entrance nearest the river. Parking in the park.
Call Paula Chasan (965-2752), Friends of Nahanton Park.
Sunday, May 18, 2:00 PM
Newton Cemetery Walk
Enjoy the wonderful landscaping and
specimen trees at Newton's example of 19th century cemetery
landscaping. Meet at the administrative building just inside the main entrance
on Walnut Street. Call Peter Kastner ( 244-6094), board member.
Sunday, May 25, 2:00 PM
Bicycle Trip Downstream along the Charles River Pathway
A low energy tour de force will
head downstream toward the Museum of Science along the Charles River Pathway.
Bring snacks for the rest at the Hatch Shell. Helmets are required. Meet at the
MDC ice rink on Charlesbank and Nonantum Roads. Adequate parking is available.
Call Peter Kastner (244-6094), board member.
Sunday, June 1, 2:00 PM
Edmands park is one of Newton's first
parks. Given to the city by the Edmands family in 1913, this 33-acre park (also
know as Cabot Woods) has a wonderful trail system and provides an opportunity
for walks, bird watching and nature study. Call Zig Plater (964-4329), past
Sunday, June 8, 2:00 PM
Canoeing On the Charles Above the Falls
Canoe on the Charles River above the
Upper Falls dams into an area unknown by most residents within the metropolitan
area. Meet at the canoe launch at the end of drive into Nahanton Park off
Nahanton Street. Parking near the launch. Call William Hagar (964-2644), board
Sunday, June 15, 2:00 PM
Webster Conservation Area
Walk part of the 113-acre reserve,
including Houghton Garden and Webster Vale. The area includes wooded areas,
wetlands, rock outcroppings and the deer park. Meet at Chestnut Hill parking lot
off Hammond Pond at Pond's edge near Hemlock Grove. Call Richard Primack
(332-1684), Newton Conservators advisor.
Sunday, June 22, 2:00 PM
Walk along the Sudbury & Cochituate
Aqueducts and explore one of Newton's hidden linear parks that runs
through pine woods, meadows and back yards. This is one of our most popular
walks led by a volunteer citizen scientist for the MWRA. Call Nick Yannoni
(444-0166), board member.
Please renew your membership for 1997.
____ New Member ____ Renewal
New member (first year) $10
Individual member $20
Family membership $25
Sustaining member $35
Additional Contribution $____
Dues and contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
Please make check payable to: Newton