President’s 2019 Annual Report

Beth Wilkinson, President

Message published in the meeting program

Welcome to the 2019 Annual Meeting. This is a time to celebrate what we’ve done in the past year and to find inspiration for the months ahead.

Thank you to our members and donors, to everyone on the Conservators’ board, to our advisors, to all our active volunteers (and to the City employees and elected official with whom we’ve worked) for their efforts to preserve and maintain open space in Newton.

Webster Woods. The Webster Woods Advisory Panel (with three Conservators’ board members and three of our advisors) has continued its work to preserve Webster Woods. Last fall, the Community Preservation Committee and the City Council approved $100,000 of CPC money for the City to hire legal counsel and their professional team to advise Mayor Fuller on the best way to proceed in protecting Webster Woods. That process has been moving forward, and there will be more news in the coming year.

Supporting the City in placing conservation restrictions on open space. In addition to monitoring the existing six conservation restrictions (CRs) we hold on City properties, members of the Conservators Board are working with the City’s Law Department and the Community Preservation Committee on new CRs on properties on Rogers Street at Crystal Lake and Wabasso Street. We also have three members on the working group to create a CR on Nahanton Park, which currently has no long-term protection. Work on a CR on Kesseler Woods will begin soon.

Invasive plant removal. The Conservators’ small but mighty invasive plant removal team of dedicated volunteers continued work at Cold Spring Park, Dolan Pond, Hemlock Gorge, Houghton Garden, Hammond Pond, Woodcock Meadow, Sawmill Brook, and along the Charles off Quinobequin Road. Our work will not eliminate the problem, but limiting invasive plants in those areas should allow for greater biodiversity and improve the health of critical open space and the wildlife that lives in it. This spring alone we scheduled seventeen invasive removal sessions!

Work on our properties. At our property on Dexter Road in Newtonville, we did soil testing and hired an expert from New England Wild Flower Society to analyze the existing trees and plants and to help us to develop a plan for improving the health of the property. We believe this will require major effort and expense to create a native shrub wildlife habitat. Our Ordway Park is located in a residential neighborhood and requires regular sidewalk snow removal, leaf raking, and tree and path maintenance work in addition to regular invasive plant control.

Collaboration with other groups. For the past year, the Conservators has worked with the new Riverside Greenway Working Group (a coalition of Bike Newton, the Conservators, the Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Foundation, and residents of Newton Lower Falls and Auburndale) to develop options for a trail network that will close the gap between the Blue Heron Trail at Lyons’s Park in Auburndale and the Riverside MBTA station, Newton Lower Falls and beyond. We’ve also been pleased to support the formation of the Friends of Cold Spring Park. We also worked with staff and volunteers from the Charles River Watershed Association on invasive species control along the river.

Education/Outreach. We are committed to sharing our work and to educating residents of Newton about the importance of open space — from Webster Woods to the proposed Two-Bridges Trail in Lower Falls. Through our annual grants program in 2018, we supported
 the city’s Environmental Science Program and helped to fund an indoor garden at Newton South. We have made exciting connections with local teachers and enjoy working with their students. Our newsletter and e-Bulletin, our cosponsored lectures at the Newton Free Library, and our extensive spring and summer walk series are all valuable tools for outreach to the community.

Our new website. Webmaster Dan Brody worked with Scott Lewis of to modernize our site, to make it work better on smartphones and tablets, and to add a host of new features. You will find it more user friendly and a convenient place to find the latest open space news; events and walks to attend; maps and info for our open spaces; past newsletters, bulletins, and videos; and many helpful search features.

Ideas for the future. As much as we are grateful for all that the Newton Conservators has accomplished this year, there is much work yet to be done.

If you would like to work on one of those projects — or have ideas of your own, please talk with a member of the Conservators’ board.

[Editor’s note:  visit the Volunteer page of the website to learn about opportunities to help.]


More from the 2019 Annual Meeting