Who Pays the price for
Mt Ida's policy of "dramatic growth"?
"I am pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees, recognizing the dramatic growth of Mount Ida College over the past five years..." Mt Ida President Barry Brown, Jan. 5, 2017.
Since 2012, Mt Ida College experienced "dramatic growth" which adversely affected its neighboring residents. Its plans for the future resulted in sale of 5.6 acres of its and to the Church of LDS with disastrous consequences to our neighborhood.
Since the 1940's, when Mt Ida College was founded, its relationship with its Oak Hill Park (OHP) neighbors (now 600 homes) had been collaborative and mutually inclusive. Under the stewardship of the Carlson family, Mt Ida had a “good neighbors” policy, under which we worked issues throughout the decades. However, as its new administration adopted a policy of "dramatic growth" (50% increase in enrollment over the last 5 years), we now have the diametric opposite.
The College was planning to undertake the destruction of the natural 11.5 acre buffer zone that has existed between its campus and our homes since the early 1950's. There is good reason why the original urban design of the college within the City of Newton included a surrounding green buffer zone around it, but Mt Ida's current administration has decided to swiftly and unexpectedly do away with it to make way for a luxury house complex, and a church of LDS with a 245-car parking lot.
It is no wonder OHP residents, and even City Hall were kept in the dark during almost 8 months regarding the magnitude of President Brown's plan to bulldoze the entire 500,000 sq ft of buffer woodlands. We have the records to show that contrary to law and Mt Ida claims, the neighbors never received all required notifications, nor for the first 5.6 acres to be destroyed, nor for the remaining 5.9 acres. The same went for the Planning Board of the City of Newton, as it has gone on the record to express its "disappointment" on having been notified of the second phase of development over the woods after Mt Ida had secured approvals for the first.
What makes this all the more remarkable is that Mt Ida College boasts an Environmental Sustainability department populated by distinguished faculty members, and young students eager to learn how to make this a greener world. It also hosts a Center for Community Engagement, whose members have signed a pledge to actively serve and learn in their community, right above the quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" (Margaret Meade). We believe President Brown's policy of "dramatic growth" has led to actions that are in breach not only of the decades-long commitments that Mt Ida's founders historically upheld with its OHP neighbors as part of the Newton community, but also of its academic and civic duties as an institution whose actions ought to be consistent with what it teaches and expects from faculty and students.
In the end the Mt Ida College did not succeed in destroying all of the Carlson Ave. Woods because it was bought by UMASS (Amherst); but they did silently sell 5.6 acres of the woods to the Church of LDS.
This is some of what neighbors write to us when they sign up to this website
"Please save the beautiful, natural woods behind my house on Wiswall Road - I have enjoyed these woods thru all seasons during my 65 years of living here - I don't want to lose it now in the twilight of my years - I beg of you to not do this thing ! It is selfish and cruel to destroy the beauty of this land! Please let me know what I can do to stop this action! Thank you."
Neighbor at Wiswall Rd
"I am already on the email list but keep us abreast of developments. Saving this parcel as well as any other land, residential or commercial from overdevelopment is important to us to preserve Oak Hill Park's character. This includes the destruction of trees, green space and air space through overdevelopment. Thank you for organizing this effort."
Neighbor at Kappius Path
"Let’s save Carlson woods- enough with all this development!!"
Neighbor at Rosalie Rd
"It’s like the Pine Manor approach... they sell off the land."
Neighbor at Peregrine Rd
"Let us know exactly what is the proposal and what we can do to stop it."
Neighbor at Appleton Circle
"Agree! Let's find a constructive approach to save our beloved wood lands!"