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Waltham Land Trust and the new Waltham High School

The Waltham Land Trust has been quietly observing the discussion of the location of a new high school for the Watch City. Our board and staff members have been attending the public meetings and following the press coverage closely. Now that revised plans are starting to emerge, including the possible use of the Stigmatine Espousal Center -- one of the Waltham’s highest value open space properties -- it makes sense for us to publicize our views about the new high school.

The Waltham Land Trust was pleased with the conceptual plans presented to the School Building Committee on November 21st. These show a new high school at the current site, entirely on land north of Jack’s Way, preserving the wooded buffer zone between the road and the Storer Conservation Lands. Unfortunately, the path of the Western Greenway trail, on land owned by the School Department north of Jack’s Way, might be in jeopardy. We applaud the idea that the school could be built on already developed land and hope that the Western Greenway trail can be avoided or relocated elsewhere on the property.

More recently we’ve learned that the Stigmatine Espousal Center could be the location of our new high school. The Waltham Land Trust has advocated for municipal acquisition of this 40-acre campus since our inception. Combined with the City’s abutting 26-acre Sanderson Heights and 6-acre Jericho Hill Summit parcels, these properties comprise one of the largest unprotected open space resources in the City, and form the connection between the Western Greenway and Prospect Hill Park.

We expected that acquisition of the Stigmatine’s would bring reuse of the already developed part of the parcel, along with the potential for preservation of the extensive woodlands there. We believe that such reuse is compatible with preservation efforts, if it follows the guidelines we have recommended for open space and development in the city.

These guidelines are laid out in detail in our recently updated “Position on Development” white paper, but the gist of it is easy to summarize here.

Wherever possible, the Waltham Land Trust recommends that new development to address the city’s infrastructure needs be sited on parcels that have already been developed and can be re-used. Where highly valuable open space like the Stigmatine Espousal Center is being considered for development, new construction should be permitted only after alternatives for re-use have been proven infeasible. If permitted, these developments should be concentrated in area, with structured parking to minimize land use, built with the best environmental practices available and strategically located to maximize preservation of the site’s natural resources, trail and wildlife corridors and the connections to contiguous parks and other open space. In addition, a comparable open space parcel elsewhere should be permanently protected to offset the loss due to new municipal development.

With proper planning for the future of Waltham, public appreciation of natural resources will grow, native habitat will be preserved and restored, environmental quality of life improved, pollution reduced, biodiversity increased and a legacy of conservation perpetuated in our city.

[The Waltham Land Trust board of directors includes two City Councillors and one School Department employee. None of these three directors attended the discussions or votes on endorsing this policy or our development white paper.]

For further information contact Sonja Wadman, Executive Director at 781-893-3355 or by email.


New Year's Day Hike 2017


2017 started off on the right foot for 140 holiday hikers who jumped in with both feet joining in the 12th annual Waltham Land Trust’s New Year’s Day Hike in Prospect Hill Park. The family-friendly event found most hikers trekking in from the south gate with leashed dogs and baby strollers in tow. While most stuck to the road, a warmly dressed conga line of hardy holiday hikers could be seen curling up the 58 stone steps stuck into the south slope of Little Prospect, and others journeyed up the Boston Rock Trail.

Additionally, new this year, a group of 60 hikers approached from the southwest corner of the park from Berry Farm and the Mass Central Rail Trail. Hikers from the nearby Highlands snaked up veins and arteries of secret trails and by 1:30 pm, a climbing crowd of 140 New Year’s revelers united as one at the summit. Friends and families loaded with excited youngsters joined Land Trust members, City of Waltham board and committee members and one brave City Councilor in a boot for the breezy espirit de corps atop the zenith of Little Prospect.

Revelers gobbled up hot chocolate, coffee, homemade fig bars and fresh fruit provided by the WLT Board of Directors and the Plympton School. A sightseeing magic trick was provided by Sonja Wadman of the Land Trust, who pulled the famous CITGO out of her hat and the Emerald City skyline of Boston. A wonderful time was had by all. Be sure to join us next year!

See more pics here...

Special Deals

Wachusett Mountain Lift Tickets Deal! Enter DON-WLT into the coupon code when you buy your lift tickets online, get a discount and earn WLT money. Very simple, folks. Buy your lift tickets online, where the price is less than if bought in person, and use our coupon code DON-WLT. At the end of the season, the Waltham Land Trust will receive $10 for every online ticket bought using our code. Tell your friends and enjoy the white stuff.

The Chateau Restaurant will generously donate 5% to the WLT from every Gift Card purchased online! Remember to enter WLT for the Give Back Gift Card Code in the Payment section of the Checkout page when you purchase your Chateau Restaurant Gift Card here.

The Waltham Land Trust’s mission is to create a legacy of land conservation in Waltham by promoting, protecting, restoring, and acquiring open space.

We envision growth in public appreciation of natural resources, preservation and restoration of native habitat, and increased biodiversity to foster a healthier environment.

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What are the natural features which make a township handsome? A river, with its waterfalls and meadows, a lake, a hill, a cliff or individual rocks, a forest, and ancient trees standing singly. Such things are beautiful; they have a high use which dollars and cents never represent. If the inhabitants of a town were wise, they would seek to preserve these things, though at considerable expense; for such things educate more than any hired teachers or preachers, or at any present recognized system of school education. -- Henry David Thoreau



About the picture in the banner at the top of the page...

The picture, taken in June of 2005, is of a vernal pool at Berry Farm. This open space parcel next to Prospect Hill Park was At Risk for development, but in the Fall of 2016, it was transferred to the City of Waltham. It is now known as Berry Park.

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