Land Acquisition Report

Where do we go after Kesseler Woods and Angino Farm? The City of Newton , with the help of the Conservators, has made two of the most high-profile and important acquisitions of open space it has made in decades, greatly expanding protection for the land along Sawmill Brook (where Kesseler Woods is located) and saving the city’s last working farm. Beyond these, we have expanded land holdings at Webster Conservation Area, at Dolan Pond, and in the riverfront area of Laundry Brook. Some of these were gifts or were low-budget and occurred without much controversy. Others became ammunition in the mayoral campaign and taught us the importance of communicating clearly to everyone in Newton how carefully the city’s open space funds have been spent.

Where do we go from here? The Conservators’ Land Acquisition Committee may want to go many places, to protect the riverfront area along the Charles or the lake shore at Hammond Pond. But we have only been able to do what we have because of the decisions of land owners – NStar, the Anginos – to bring their properties to market. The decisions aren’t ours. We go where land owners allow. For the Conservators’ land acquisitions, it has been important to be ready and, when land has been brought to the market, to react.

The city’s Open Space and Recreation Plan gives us guidelines as to what properties are priorities for protection:

  • riverfront parcels,
  • a small pond, used by neighbors for skating and by frogs, fish, and waterfowl,
  • land that comes alive in spring with vernal pools,
  • woods of beech trees near Hammond Pond.

We approach land owners and let them know that we are available to help if they determine that the time has come to see their land formally protected. We need contacts with land owners. It is far easier to approach a land owner through a friend.

These have been good years for open space protection in Newton . Protection seldom happens without a will on the part of the land owner to see the process through. It is important for us to always respect land owners’ rights and wishes. With the help of friends, we will continue our work to find protection for land.

Eric Reenstierna

December 2005