President’s 2006 Annual Report

Welcome to the forty-fifth annual meeting of the Newton Conservators! I want to thank all of you members and friends who are attending tonight’s dinner. Special thanks to Aldermen Vern Vance, Alderman Marci Johnson, Alderman Brian Yates, and Mayor David Cohen. We welcome you to our program, and thank you for your assistance with various open space projects in the past and the future. We also welcome individuals from other environmental and historical groups that are attending and have cooperated and collaborated with us in the past to keep open space and conservation on the agenda in Newton. One collaborative group just received NewTV’s “Red Carpet Award” for field production and community input. This group, which includes Patty Goldman, Duane Hillis, Frank Howard, Ted Kuklinski and Cris Criscitiello, put together a number of “made for TV” shows including the award winners: “Flora and Fauna of the Charles River”, and “Appreciation of the Charles”. Carole Smith Berney helped with the presentations, and she & Patsy Murray have just published a document, “Wildflowers near the Charles River”, which Carole was signing this evening for members. Autographed copies are always important, and I have one of them. Dan Driscoll (DCR) assisted with the printing of “Wildflowers”, and has given us many copies for distribution at tonight’s meeting. We also want to thank Carol Corbett, Anne Pearson and Duane Hillis for their help in setting up the meals, mailing list, centerpieces and projection equipment for this forty-fifth annual dinner. Dottie and I have lived in Newton for over thirty years so the 45th annual meeting is rather impressive in numbers. Some of you out there were members from the beginning and have provided support for all of those years. Your initial efforts have been

rewarded many times over with conservation oversight and improvements making this a better place for all. The Conservators started when open spaces in Newton were being consumed at an incredible rate. I was told that in the 1950’s the Wells Avenue Charles River area had the most pristine flora and fauna found in the State. It was lost as a large parcel of open space, but remaining edges of it may be seen whilst canoeing along the Charles from Nahanton Park to Millennium Park. This is a great city to be part of, and the demand for buildable space is a constant threat. Trying to balance the dynamics of an active city can be very difficult; nevertheless, it is most important to retain viable open space for the health of the community.

Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, knew the importance of preserving the environment. Her science and commitment alerted us to environmental protection. Several quotes from her come to mind:

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species-man-acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.”

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

Roger Feinstein, a past president of the Conservators, who passed away last year, told me that a meeting of the Conservators was like a Quaker Meeting: when the appropriate topic pops up someone will add their expertise and energy to complete the task. No tasks are assigned or expected. Roger was a wonderful writer and a ferocious recycler who will be missed.

As I reviewed the past year, I am in wonder about all the things that our members have accomplished. One example is our Grants program to provide financial input to the school system to help educate students in environmental topics. Funding from our program helps the teachers with their interesting environmentally-based education projects. Tonight we have teachers from two school systems: Sharon Foster and Beth Ann Nohmy from Franklin Elementary School and Ms. Jones and Missy Costello from Bigelow School, whose students have benefited from our outreach environmental education programs. Their presentations were well received by all of you at tonight’s dinner. The Conservators also are very supportive of Newton’s very successful Environmental Science Program, directed by David Backer, that takes the next age level of students from Newton and helps make them much more aware of their environment. We now have an active community farm that serves as visual open space for passers-by, as a food cooperative for local citizen farmers, and as a teaching platform for numerous students and members of the Newton Community. Gregory Maslowe will be the farmer working this piece of fertile earth.

I am continually impressed with the activity and ability of Board Members. Our meetings cover material on a myriad of topics: Treasurer’s reports and notes, meeting notes, land acquisition information, insurance policies, land management, legal advice, publicity, maintaining Web site, guided walks, and lectures. Our involvement with the recent spring presentation on activities supported by the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which was coordinated by Ted Kuklinski and Doug Dickson, educated Newton citizens on what has been accomplished over the past five years due to this program.

The current agreement of having the CPA in place in Newton has wide support among the Conservators. CPA has been a remarkable program throughout the state and in Newton. Over five years ago, required signatures were obtained and the motion was placed on the ballet. Citizens of Newton approved the plan, and the Community Preservation Act program, subsequently, has thrived in Newton. Members of the Newton Conservators were essential members of the team that coordinated efforts to have this monetary addition from the state support their efforts. The last two major land additions were Kesseler Woods and the Angino Farm. Without CPA funds these land acquisitions would not have been possible.

New ideas on the horizon are continued preservation of land in Newton and an interest in having full access to the walking paths on top of the aqueducts. Most of the aqueduct paths, which crisscross Newton, are open for travel, but some sections are blocked by owners. Opening of the aqueduct pathway is one goal for us to do for the next year.

William Hagar