Newton Conservators Feb 1997 Newsletter
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members and Friends,
Since our last Newsletter there has been a great deal of activity in regard
to our parks and open spaces.
Our Parks and Open Space Symposium took place on November 14, 1996. It was a
very well attended and interesting event and has received strong positive
reviews. If you missed it, you can read about it in an inside article.
We have been very active with the Board of Aldermen, particularly the Finance
and the Zoning & Planning Committees. We are discussing with the Mayor
matters concerning the improvement of the management and maintenance of all of
Newton's open spaces. We had success in our requests regarding avoiding a
communications tower in West Newton Square, and studies are under way to
establish codes for future tower applications. We have been told there will have
a favorable vote on funds to replace the rotting foot bridge in the Kennard
Conservation Area, although this item has been tabled by the Finance Committee
several times for unknown reasons. Call your alderman on this one, please.
A major success was encouraging the Board of Aldermen to approve the purchase
of the Wabasso St. Property adjacent to the Flowed Meadow area and the City
dump. That is a key to improving the entire area and giving access to citizens
in the north part of town to what will be a wonderful open space complex. We are
working with various departments on the long range overall planning for a major
combined combination of park land, conservation land and MDC open space which
will run from Commonwealth Avenue to Waltham and from Lexington St. to the
Charles River. This will include the Rumford Street dump that is due to be
capped this year. The Mayor and the Board of Alderman will be able to leave a
marvelous legacy to future Newton generations.
We made grants in December to two schools, and will continue to provide
scholarships to the Conservation Summer Environmental Science Program.
Articles on some of the above activities and others are included in this
issue so you can follow the activities in detail.
I would like to suggest one very important thing to our members. We know that
the City Commissions and Departments and the Board of Aldermen are very
sensitive to the desires of the citizens, and they definitely do respond to the
voice of constituencies when the voices are loud enough and clear enough. All of
us, who love our open spaces and what they give to the quality of life in our
city, whether NC member or not, represent a constituency for the parks and open
spaces. When you become aware of an issue which you feel is important, by either
reading it in the Tab or the Graphic or in our Newsletter or learning about it
in any other way, your telephone call or letter to your Alderman or Alderwoman
to express your feelings can actually help a lot. Do the same to the Department
heads. or to the Mayor. Your calls and letters give support and reinforcement to
what we say and try to do. There is no doubt about it: "the squeaky wheel gets
the oil". We must be a "squeaky wheel" to help our parks and open spaces and
conservation areas get the attention they need.
We can never forget that it is your support which makes our activities
possible. Our membership renewal drive for 1997 is doing well. The response
shows you approve of what we have been doing. You may be assured we will
continue. (If you haven't had an opportunity to renew your membership for 1997,
we hope you will soon.)
Burton Elliott, President
THE 30TH YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE SUMMER PROGRAM SET FOR
Since 1967 the Conservation Commission has run a summer program that provides
summer outdoor experiences to girls and boys entering the 7th to the
10th grade. Each year the Newton Conservators gives a grant to
finance partial tuitions based on need.
To quote their brochure, "ESP is a unique summer experience that couples
excitement and adventure with developing an awareness of environmental issues
and basic ecology". The program runs from July 1-31, 1997. Following are
excerpts from their brochure and information sheet. If you have children of that
age, you may want to look into this very interesting program which is both fun
and educational. Contact Student Director Jenny Casavant at 969-2618 or Staff
Advisor Leea Thomases at 527 2763.
Also, Ms. Thomases is looking for a new advisor to replace her when she
leaves the program in two years. If you are interested or know anyone who might
be, contact Ms. Thomases at 527-2763.
(Put in here the paragraphs marked on their brochures, 1st A, then
ANNUAL MEETING AND DINNER THURSDAY, MAY 29, 1997: SAVE THE DATE
Our annual meeting, dinner and conferring of the "Environmentalist of the
Year Award will take place on the evening of Thursday, May 29, 1997.
Both the keynote speaker and the honoree for the Environmentalist of the Year
Award have been chosen and will be announced shortly. They are both truly
outstanding persons. We also plan and to give recognition to our past Presidents
others for their past service to our organization. We believe our program will
be a very interesting one.
Details will be provided in our next Newsletter, and special invitations will
be sent. We hope you will put the date on your calendar and join us on May
_____________________________________________________CALL FOR NOMINATIONS
FOR BOARD MEMBERS
An important aspect of our Annual Meeting is the election of the members of
our Board of Directors and officers. Our officers are chosen from the Board, and
we seek new members each year who can bring new energy and new ideas to our
efforts and programs. Although many Board members continue to serve for many
years (thankfully there is always some attrition for time conflicts or other
reasons.. If you know of persons whom you think might be qualified and
interested (that might very well include yourself!), please send us a note with
the name, address and telephone number as well as your own. It would be helpful
if you briefly tell us a little about the person.
Send your nominee information to Nominating Committee, Newton Conservators,
Inc., PO Box 11, Newton Centre, MA 02159
FALL WALKS PROGRAM UPDATE
Our 1996 fall walks program consisted of seven walks on seven Sundays from
September through November. From the reports from the leaders and feedback from
participants it was a very successful season. During each walk, participants
have an opportunity to see one of our open spaces or conservation areas in the
company of someone who is fully conversant with the area. That way one learns
the background and natural attributes of the space in greater depth than if one
went alone. The history, flora, fauna and geologic attributes are all discussed,
and as many times as ones has visited the area in the past one always has a new
understanding of the area after a visit with a leader.
John Bliss, a former NC President, lead the October walk in Edmands Park,
also known as Cabot Woods. It is one of Newton's lovely natural spaces, and it
has many trails, , different elevations, wetlands, a brook, and an open space.
Here are excerpts from John's report.
"The walkers and I set of a few minutes after 2:00 PM, returning about an
hour and ten minutes later. People were quite interested in the history of the
park and in its current condition. Gene Cronin, a member of the group and a long
time member of the NC, provided some historical perspective of the area gathered
from his lifetime of living in Newton (~80 years). People were interested in
more details of the history of the park, and I referred them to the Newton
Library volumes on the park at index numbers 711.558 which are located in the
Newton Room of the main library."
The Spring Walk schedule will be published in the next Newsletter. We hope you will be able to take advantage of one or more of them. There is no charge for attending.
KENNARD CONSERVATION AREA
by Joseph P. Richardson
(Put his attached article here, and print the map as well if it is
(follow it with the attached "Kennard Conservation Area Fact Sheet")
(Follow that with the following)
Editor's Note. The 32A Kennard Conservation Area in south Newton is one of our finest open natural spaces. It abuts Brookline's Lost Pond Reservation which is about the same size. It has a foot bridge (a.k.a. the bog bridge) that is a key element of the loop trail around the area.. The bridge has deteriorated to a dangerous point and has been on the verge of being closed for safety reasons. It is beyond repair and must be replaced. The new bridge is in the new Capital Improvement Plan, but was originally turned down by the Finance Committee. We have been working closely with the Committee to encourage them to pass this expenditure, and have recently been told that the bridge replacement will be brought up for a vote again and that the Committee is expected to vote favorably on it. However, for several meetings the Committee tabled it or did not put it on the agenda. Please call your Alderman and encourage favorable and speedy action on this item, because the best time to do the work is before the ground thaws.)
(In the lower half of the last inside page, please put the membership form- be sure to use the new schedule of membership rates.)
(For the blank half of the outside page, please print the following)
GRANT RECEIVED TO STUDY HAMMOND POND POLLUTION
In January, 1997, the Newton Conservation Commission, cosponsored by the
Friends of Hammond Pond and the Newton Conservators, Inc., has applied for a
grant from the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Management for a study of
Hammond Pond as an endangered wetland. The pond appears to have a serious
pollution problem which is slowly but steadily causing a choking of the water
The project will have incorporate five tasks leading to recommendations for alleviating the problems.
1. Define the surface watershed and storm drainage network.
2. Conduct June to September water quality sampling.
3. Determine trophic state through analysis of data.
4. Assess feasibility of solutions and corrective action.
5. Produce an educational brochure and develop a catchbasin marking
The following are the project selection criteria.
(add sheet "A" here)
We commend the Friends of Hammond Park for taking the lead in this grant
application. For further information, or to participate or assist, write to
Stephanie Bacon, 541 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, MA 02167.
The Drucker Auditorium of the Main Library was filled to overflowing with
citizens who wanted to engage the six panelists on issues about our parks and
open spaces. We estimate that approximately 175 people attended.
The panelists (alphabetically) were: Douglas Dickson, Chair of the Newton
Landscape Task Force; Dan Driscoll. MDC Manager of the Upper Charles River
Greenway Project: Susan Glazer, Acting Director of the Newton Planning Dept.;
James Mahoney, Chair of the Newton Parks and Recreation Commission; Richard
Staley, Chair of the Newton Conservation Commission; and Brian Yates, Chair of
the Zoning & Planning Committee of the Newton Aldermen.
During the first hour, each panelist explained the activities for which they
were responsible and briefly discussed future projects. During the second hour,
questions were raised from the attendees and responses were given by the
panelists. Dozens and Dozens of questions were asked and issues raised, and
dozens more were submitted in writing to the moderator. Time ran out before many
could be addresses.
The following are just a few examples of the questions and suggestions.
Is Newton spending as much on open space as neighboring towns? A study showed that we are not.
It was recommended that a network be established to reach all the city organizations on outstanding issues of open spaces.
What are the restrictions on use of recreation lands? Why do playgrounds and playing fields get much more attention than passive use parks?
Will the city have ordinances concerning restriction on telecommunication towers?
A definition was requested for playgrounds, playing fields, public open spaces, and parks, and the use and limitations on use of each.
Can efficiency and elimination of overlaps be arranged by better coordination of all the departments responsible for public open spaces?
Many questions were asked about the Rumford Street dump and the incinerator..
Details were asked for about the Greenway Project and answers were given. How will it be maintained when finished?
Are there plans to acquire more open spaces?
A vision needs to be developed for the future of all open spaces.
Can long range planning be subcontracted to a professional consultant?
Why are our historic cemeteries rarely maintained?
Will the Commissioners be willing to have public neighborhood meetings when major projects are proposed? Why hasn't the public been more involved?
The Wabasso St. property was mentioned several times.
What is the purpose of the Open Space Plan, and what is the timetable for action if any?
Listing all the questions and answers would more than fill up an entire Newsletter.
There was a general pattern to many of the questions, and it involved
inclusion of the public in decision making for neighborhoods, improved
maintenance of our parks and open spaces, coordination among departments, and
especially a request for long range planning..
The Conservators will address as many of the unanswered questions as
possible, and we will continue to work very closely with the city departments on
as many issues as possible.. The Symposium brought the concerns of the public
very directly and clearly to the Commissioners and Department Heads, and has
helped to set our own agenda well into the future. We hope you will see the
results in the months and years to come.
The following is a condensation of a letter to Mayor Concannon expresses to
him three of the many major issues which will have a very beneficial effect on
the future of Newton for all it's citizens if adopted. These suggestions came
about as a result of the Symposium.
January 14, 1997
Dear Mayor Concannon:
Over the past several months we have discussed various matters concerning
open space and parks. This letter is to define three of them and suggest action
to be taken.
The first is the matter of all the lands involved in the Wabasso. St.
property purchase Now that the purchase is complete, We propose that combined,
long term planning should be done for the 25 acres known as "Flowed Meadows"
which the Department of Public Works intends to release, for the rest of the
dump sight, for all adjacent public lands and for the eventual purchase of the
other two properties on Wabasso St.
This is a unique opportunity for Newton to create an extensive, comprehensive
and marvelous combination of parks, playgrounds, passive recreation areas and
natural open space in the northern part of the City. We know that various groups
are offering suggestions as to the future of the lands, and public input is
good. However, in order to have an appropriate, intensive and controlled
evaluation of the entire City-owned properties running from Commonwealth Avenue
to Rumford St. and Waltham (including the dump site and possibly the incinerator
site), and from Lexington Street to the Charles River, we recommend that an
official task force or ad hoc committee reporting to you be established to
evaluate the properties and recommend short and long term plans for the entire
area. All involved City Departments would, of course, be represented on such a
Committee, but private citizens should be included by having individuals and
representatives of appropriate organizations included. This is an opportunity
for the creation of a superb open space complex as a legacy to future
generations of Newton residents.
The second matter concerns an issue raised at our Symposium in November. Many
questions were asked about coordinated planning, maintenance and use of the
properties supervised by the Parks and Recreation Department, the Conservation
Commission, the Planning Department and the Department of Public Works.
A clear consensus evolved that certain matters and planning of all the open
space City property would be better served by being under one coordinating
individual or group. This could improve efficiency of maintenance, allow for
coordinated planning and provide for properly balancing the use of Newton's open
spaces between sports, playgrounds, passive recreation and programs. It could
eliminate counterproductive, overlapping or competing situations. Once again we
recommend an ad hoc committee to evaluate the possibility and recommend changes
if found advantageous.
Currently, this matter is being considered by the Landscape Task Force and
the Parks and Recreation Department. If their recommendations cover the above
matters fully and appropriately and include input and agreement from all
departments and citizens as well, we would endorse it without the need for a
The third issue, and one we believe is essential, is to make the position of
Environmental Planner in the Planning Department a full time position. At
present, the position is for twenty hours. The person is responsible for
conservation lands. However, because of time restrictions, only statutory issues
are dealt with, and matters of land use planning, inspection, improvement and
maintenance (except for minimal) are neglected. Previously, the now neglected
work was done by a full time volunteer. While this matter does not call for a
committee to resolve it, it does require a small increase in the operating
budget. We hope you will investigate this matter: we are sure you will
understand the need.
Editor's Note about "Wabasso St.":
We have been encouraging the City for many months to acquire the property adjacent to the Rumford St. dump. We are delighted to report that the purchase has been made and the building was demolished on January 31, 1997
Why is this property important? Alone, it is not. However, it is the key to the much larger project mentioned in the above letter to the Mayor. The City (through its various departments) and the MDC own a major collection of lands in that area. The Wabasso St. purchase now gives the people in the northern part of the city access to this entire property from Rumford St. It's roadway is also a key to access to the river and to two more properties west and south of it when they become available. When the whole property is consolidated and the dump capped, this property can become one of Newton's most beautiful and exciting areas, with parks, wetlands, walking trails, passive recreation, and whatever the imagination can allow. We are working closely with the City to help this come about.