President’s Report – 1997

Presented at the Newton Conservators Annual Meeting, May 29, 1997
by Burton Elliott, President

Welcome to the annual meeting of the Newton Conservators. I’m Bud Elliott, the current President, and it’s a pleasure to see you all here.

It ‘s my duty to report on our activities over the past year. It won’t be easy to do so in the six minutes time I am allotted, but I will summarize some highlights.

Our Newsletter has been expanded this year to five issues, and more articles have been printed from outside participants to provide more information.

Our membership is strong, and our finances are in order.

Our spring and fall walks continue to be well attended and reports from our walk leaders have been favorable.

Our Grants Program continues, and this past year we have partially funded an independently produced video of the Lost Pond and Kennard Conservation Areas, given funds to the Library to purchase more environmental books and periodicals, we continue to give scholarships to the Conservation Commission Summer Environmental program, and we continued to fund Newton School environmental projects proposed by teachers.

We assisted the Green Decade Coalition in obtaining a state grant for a toxic pesticide study and education program, and we assisted the Friends of Hammond Pond to obtain a state grant to study the deterioration of Hammond Pond.

Our November Symposium on Parks and Open Spaces with six City and State Officials was attended to overflowing at the Library auditorium, and has had a major impact on our agenda and activities since.

We worked hard and successfully to have the city fund the reconstruction of the Kennard Conservation Area bog bridge which is essential to its trail system, and we worked hard and also successfully to stop the city from allowing the construction of a 150’ communications tower in West Newton Square. We have been involved in the Allison Park, now Forte Park, renovation, and the Charles River Pathway Project We have worked on issues concerning Richardson Field, Lyons, Edmands, Auburndale, Nahanton, and Cold Springs parks and many more. We constantly encourage the City to keep the parks well maintained and to keep them from inappropriate use and defacement, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so.

We successfully advocated for expanding the position of Newton Environmental Planner from a half time to a full time position. We hope and expect that the increase will have a major positive impact on the future maintenance of our Conservation areas. We are pressing very hard for the City to choose a new Planning Department Director who will be sympathetic to the City’s environmental and open space needs instead of its development only.

Our Board Meetings are hard working and well attended. You have a dedicated Board of Directors, and many of our advisor attend and participate. Several times aldermen have joined us, and we had a presentation by the Public Works Commissioner on the issue of the Rumford St. dump capping. Board members also attend P&R meetings and Cons. Comm. meetings, as well as many Aldermanic committee meetings, and we speak on behalf of our open spaces. We have two board members on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and expect to have one member appointed to the Conservation Commission this Spring.

We strongly and successfully advocated for the City purchase of private property adjacent to the Flowed Meadow area in Auburndale, and are working with the city on the purchase of two more contiguous properties which also abut the Charles River. We believe the entire contiguous area of approximately 170 acres can become one of the City’s finest active and passive recreation areas if it is well planned.

We have our own web site on the Internet where people can see some of our park maps and learn of our news and issues. We expect to expand this even further.

We are strongly encouraging the City and its departments to do long range planning for our parks and conservation areas. So far we have not been successful at this, but we will not stop until we are. This is another area in which we need your help.

We have worked in cooperation with the League of Women Voters, The Green Decade Coalition, Newton Pride, The Newton Landscape Task Force and many other City non-profit organizations. We also will be having an exhibition in conjunction with our counterpart in Brookline, the Brookline Green Space Alliance, in July at the Chestnut Hill Mall to show the splendors of our open spaces.

And there are many, many more areas and issues in which we have been involved

Article II of the original by-laws is entitled “purpose”. The essence is in the first part of the first sentence. It reads: “The purpose of the Corporation shall be to foster for the public interest in the City of Newton the protection, preservation and conservation of natural objects and areas..”. It later mentions fostering acquisition of land, dissemination of information, and incidentally, not to participate or intervene on behalf of any political candidate, to promote good citizenship, and even to combat juvenile delinquency! I cannot imagine what was going on then for that to be included!

Question: except possibly in regard to that last item, is the Newton Conservators of today living up to the original purpose?

Question: is Newton a better place because the Newton Conservators exists? I certainly believe so. and nothing we do could be done without the support of all of our members.

Thank you.

Burton Elliott
May, 1997