The Green Team
As a staff person with Green Decade, the co-chair of the
League of Women Voters' Environmental Committee, and
a Member of the Board of Directors of The Newton
Conservators, I find myself in a good position to evaluate
the environmental efforts here in our city and to see how
these three organizations work together on local issues.
Each group has its own focus.The Conservators are Newton's
land trust. For 50 years we have worked to protect and
maintain Newton's open spaces and conservation lands.
Surprisingly, there remain opportunities to preserve open
space here in Newton, and protecting these undeveloped
parcels is a big priority. We also organize neighborhood
efforts to remove invasive plant species, to improve the
quality of open spaces for both people and wildlife.
Recently, the Conservators were critical in the establishment
of a Parks & Recreation working group which seeks to better
manage Nahanton Park for myriad uses,which include
birding, dog walking, running, hiking, boating, and
community gardening. The Conservators realize how
important it is to develop a management plan,which is
essentially a road map for conservation goals. This past year,
we retained the Massachusetts Audubon Extension Service
to inventory some of our conservation and open space
areas and make recommendations about best management
practices. Some suggestions included better control of
invasive plants, improved delineation of conservation areas,
and conducting water quality testing where appropriate.
Green Decade has been working for over 20 years on climate
change and encouraging Newton residents to live more
sustainably. Their main points of focus include safe alternatives
to toxic chemicals, toxic chemical use reduction, encouraging
more pedestrian and bike friendly development, improving
energy efficiency, and alternative energy use. Green Decade
projects include "Eco-Teams," which help households and
other organizations work together to reduce their carbon
footprint by reducing energy use. Other projects are Students
for a Greener World and the School Outreach Committee,
which actively involves students in environmental projects.
The League of Women Voters' Environmental Committee recently organized a two-part forum on storm water
management at the Newton Free Library. The Conservators
and Green Decade were co-sponsors, and our President, Jane
Sender, moderated the second forum. These forums brought
attention to the seriously deteriorating condition of Newton’s
water and sewer infrastructure.Currently Newton residents
are paying about 40% to 55% more for sewer because of the
infiltration of clean groundwater leaking into old sewer pipes.
All three organizations have been working on promoting
development that mitigates potential environmental
impacts. This includes the principles behind “Smart
Growth” and low impact development.
All three have communicated with the Board of Aldermen
regarding the Chestnut Hill Square Project on Route 9, to
ensure that the project maximizes green space and invites
pedestrian and bike access.
We are fortunate to have a number of other groups which also have an impact in conservation and city planning and open space issues. They include the Newton Tree Conservancy, Bike Newton, Newton Pride, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force. All are important in advocating for the environment, preserving our quality of life, and maintaining Newton's reputation as "The Garden City."