Mayor Ruthanne Fuller strongly supports preserving Webster Woods, the largest contiguous parcel of undeveloped, open space in Newton.
The 12-plus acres of woods at the rear of 300 Hammond Pond Parkway, purchased by Boston College from Congregation Mishkan Tefila in May 2016, is directly in the middle of the wooded land owned by the Newton Conservation Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Since the sale, the Friends of Webster Woods and the Newton Conservators have worked together to find ways to preserve the much-loved and visited forest, vernal pond, and rock formations.
Mayor Fuller is pleased to announce the members of the newly formed Webster Woods Advisory Panel, which will review and recommend options to her for the protection of this important natural resource.
• Lisle Baker: Ward City Councilor from Ward 7 and a Professor of Law at Suffolk University.
• Peter Barrer: Chair of Newton’s Design Review Committee. President of the Board of Directors of the Newton Community Farm.
• Dan Brody: Director and Website Manager for the Newton Conservators. Wrote the Webster Woods trail descriptions published in the Appalachian Mountain Club's Massachusetts Trail Guide, 10th edition.
• Suzanne Carleo: Comptroller of the Charles River Watershed Association.
• Jeff Goldman: Abutter and Land Steward for Webster Woods for the City’s Conservation Department.
• Barney Heath: Director of Planning and Development for the City of Newton.
• Ken Kimmel: Co-chair of the Friends of Webster Woods and the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Former Commissioner of
the MassDEP and the director of a law firm specializing in environmental, energy, and land-use issues.
• Eric Olson: Ecologist at Brandeis University. For many years, a leader of walks to the Bare Vernal Pool in Webster Woods.
• Richard Primack: Professor of Biology at Boston University and
the director of a lab that studies how climate change affects the environment. Writer about and researcher of Webster Woods.
• Stephen Small: Nationally known land-protection lawyer. Author of The Business of Open Space: What’s Next?
• Jennifer Steel: Chief Environmental Planner for the City of Newton and, in that role, works with the Conservation Commission.
• Beth Wilkinson, Chair: President of the Board of Directors of the Newton Conservators and a member of the Newton Urban Tree Commission.
• Jonathan Yeo: Chief Operating Officer of the City of Newton. Formerly, Director of Water Supply Protection for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
• Ouida Young: City Solicitor for the City of Newton.
The members of the Advisory Panel were chosen for the knowledge and expertise they will bring to the process of protecting the Woods.
“We had so many more excellent people come forward to serve on this panel than seats available. I encourage all of them, and everyone interested in preserving this important parcel of woods to stay involved and work with the Advisory Panel,” Mayor Fuller said.
The “Webster Woods” parcel, composed of the lands located behind the former Temple Mishkan Tefila at 300 Hammond Pond Parkway was identified in 2012–2017 Newton Open Space Plan as an important natural and recreational resource for the City of Newton. Under the leadership of the Mayor and the Ward 7 Councilors, the Conservation Division of the Planning Department has begun to review the options to permanently conserve this area for public use. An important first step in this process is a reliable appraisal of the value of the property at interest, the final copy of which is attached.
Large undeveloped parcels are exceedingly rare in Newton and represent a conservation and recreation opportunity consistent with the longstanding public use of the area and trails. The Webster Woods parcel is made even more valuable by the fact that it is surrounded by existing City- and DCR-owned conservation lands such that its conservation would contribute to the retention of a large tract of ecologically valuable forest as well as a rare opportunity for relative seclusion and quiet in a natural setting otherwise very close to Boston.
With this appraisal complete, there is time for interested parties to examine this document. With a change in administration approaching, it will be important for conversations with Boston College to occur after the election as the next Mayor as along with the Ward 7 Councilors will be pivotal.