Letter sent to Mayor Fullers office on behalf of the Residents of Oak Hill Park

January 13, 2018

Dear [Mayor Fuller team member], 

 

Thanks again for receiving Pamela and me (as representatives for our negihborhood) for a meeting with the Mayor in regard to our great concern about the destruction of Carlson Ave Woods.  

 

As a follow up to that conversation, and looking forward to the Mayor’s visit to Oak Hill Park next Tuesday, you requested that we update you on any developments on the matter. Here are the main highlights:

 

1.- We have continued to organize and campaign, recruited a lot more people to our cause, and are reaching out to as many institutions and organizations as we can.  We are especially mobilizing to show up to meetings and events, as we want to believe in the power of the people of Newton to save some of its few remaining green areas to overdevelopment (of which this is a textbook case).  

 

2.- We have continued to lay out the various reasons why these woods not be destroyed at the www.savecarlsonwoods.org website.  If you haven’t seen it lately, please visit it as it contains much of our sentiment, and the multiple reasons why this project is of much detriment to those of us who are here to stay.   

 

3.- We sought to meet with Barry Brown, President of Mt Ida College, in the hope engaging in a meaningful conversation in which all of us stakeholders could work out a reasonable solution, but he declined to meet us.  To us, this is looking more and more like Big Interests against the little guy. 

 

Looking forward to Mayor Fuller’s visit, I’d like to share with you some of the questions that we will be asking the Mayor, now that she has had more time to acquaint herself with the issue. 

 

1.- Quoting Mayor Fuller’s campaign statement that "Open space is one of the aspects of Newton that makes it a great place to live. We are fortunate that past generations of Newton activists had the foresight to recommend the preservation of key parcels of land, and that past generations of elected officials had the good sense to follow those recommendations”. 

 

- We will ask that she prove her commitment to open spaces by reaching out to President Brown, in an attempt to find a better solution to the destruction of the entirety of these 12 acres of woodlands for money.  This is an open space, a natural buffer between the neighborhood and the College, never meant for construction. We are the Newton activists she mentions, and we believe Mayor Fuller should govern in a way that future generations also look back on her as one of those  "elected officials [that] had the good sense to follow those recommendations.”  The Mayor couldn’t find a more timely and fitting example for showing that her words are indeed meant to become deeds.  All of us understand that is not easy (it never is), but we trust that she has the integrity and the resolve to turn her commitments into reality without caveats. 

 

2.- Quoting Mayor Fuller’s campaign statement that "Preserving open space plays a critical role in protecting the environment. It reduces pollutants in our storm drain system; lowers the likelihood of street flooding; provides wildlife habitat; and reduces greenhouse gasses."

 

- We will ask that she and her technical staff pay special attention to our concerns of how precisely the destruction of these woods will increase the perils to our drain system and increases the risk of flooding into an area of 600 homes that is already in a high water table.  Abutters are especially troubled by what the future will bring without this natural buffer and drainage, and we will have to deal with this for the rest of our lives.    

 

3.- Quoting Mayor Fuller’s campaign statement that "Striking while the iron is hot. The opportunity to preserve open space does not come along every day, and once a parcel is developed, it’s almost always gone forever. That is why preservation of appropriate open space in general ... has always been a top priority of mine.”

 

- Throughout most of 2017, Mt Ida College proceeded swiftly to advance this project, selling land, requesting permits, signing agreements, and developing the architectural project, all while none of the neighbors had any idea what this would turn out to be. We were shown the project only until late November, two days before plans would be presented to the City's Conservation Board, and only 7 days before they would be presented to the City's Planning Board. It was only then, that we realized the implications for us, here at OHP.  The iron is red hot, the opportunity to preserve this particular open space has come along, and if we don't act now, this parcel will indeed be gone forever.  

 

We are especially hopeful with the large section that Mayor Fuller laid out in her platform, as to the issue of Open Spaces at the Garden City.  Paragraph by paragraph, it reads as though saving Carlson Ave Woods is an issue to which she would authentically commit to stewarding towards a solution that is consistent with her campaign commitments, but also that it would be close to hear heart as a person who cares about nature and the wildlife in it. Of course we understand that the Mayor has many other items of high priority to address in her young administration, but during the Mayor’s visit to Oak Hill Park next week, we’d like to obtain greater clarity of what steps she will take to turn her words into deeds, helping us reach a solution with Mt Ida College, and ensure that we mean it when we say we’re the Garden City.  

 

We look forward to welcoming the Mayor and her team to Oak Hill Park, and to a meaningful dialogue between us going forward during your administration.  

 

Best regards, 

 

Jhonatan Rotberg 

and the Newton residents campaigning to save Carlson Ave Woods. 

www.savecarlsonwoods.org  

 

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