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Letter to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mount Ida College, re: Carlson Ave Woods

Dear Mr Burns,

We hereby write you this letter, in your role as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Mount Ida College, in an attempt to reopen a line of communication between the College and the neighbors of Oak Hill Park, Carlson Ave, and other nearby areas.

This urgency is the result of the quick pace at which events are moving towards the destruction of the woodlands buffer zone that surrounds Mount Ida’s campus, delineating a natural, green separation between its facilities and our homes.

As you may know, during the Carlson years this line of communication had been transparent and collaborative, but as we reached out to establish a constructive dialogue regarding this issue last December with President Brown, we were met with indifference to our concerns as Stakeholders that will be directly affected by his decision to destroy a large portion of what is known as “Carlson Ave Woods”. In this vein, we ask that you share this letter with the rest of the Trustees of Mount Ida College; our is hope that during the upcoming meeting, the Board requests President Brown to re-take the dialogue with its neighbors, towards a more constructive solution to this problem.

Given the magnitude of the environmental destruction at hand, and the lack of echo to our voices as neighbors, our only recourse was establish and fund “Save Carlson Woods”, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit entity dedicated to the preservation of the treasured green space that the City of Newton endowed Mount Ida as the natural buffer between its campus and Oak Hill Park, a neighborhood the City designed and built for returning veterans of World War II. You can visit our website at, to learn of the various reasons that compel us to embrace this cause.

Having read through 2013’s “Plan for the Future of Mount Ida College”, 2016’s “Vision 2020”, and 2017’s NEASC “Institutional Self Study”, we understand the financial pressures that institutions such as yours go through these days, but our view is that allowing the decimation of Carlson Ave Woods will have permanent adverse consequences not only to its neighbors, but to the College as well. We believe it is beholden to the leaders of higher learning institutions to find the way to raise funds in more creative ways than to give away their legacy land assets for short term operating income, thereby mortgaging their institutions’ future. (President Brown told us the funds would go towards tuition.)

In our request that you help us slow the pace towards this environmental destruction, and to compel President Brown to take part in a respectful and collaborative conversation among all stakeholders, we offer, if only by number and assets of our membership, the ability to think through other, more innovative ideas for the College to obtain the funds it needs, especially ideas that have the potential to become recurring sources, as opposed to a one-time event. In fact, we thought we were off to a good start during our one meeting with President Brown last December, but, unexpectedly, he declined our subsequent invitations to meet and continue the dialogue.

Please share this letter with the rest of the Board of Trustees and with President Brown. We look forward to your response, and the opportunity to meet you in the work of resolving this matter in a better way.


Jhonatan Rotberg

on behalf of “Save Carlson Woods”, its members and activists.

cc Carmin Reiss

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