Proposed Changes at Arboretum’s Weld Hill
LANA has long been involved in preserving open space and natural habitat within the neighboring areas of the Arboretum. Years ago we negotiated a legally binding agreement to keep Weld Hill scenic and landscaped. We now find the Arboretum and the City of Boston have chosen ignore the agreement to install solar panels in the middle of the meadow. As your neighbors; we ask you join us to keep the area preserved as Frederick Olmsted intended.
The Compromise That Led to a Change in Zoning at the Arboretum’s Weld Hill
Prior to 2007, a significant contingent of abutters and neighbors were opposed to any zoning changes that would have permitted the Arnold Arboretum from erecting a new institutional complex on Centre Street on land not zoned for institutional uses. The Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association brokered a compromise with the surrounding community, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Harvard University and the Arnold Arboretum to allow the Arboretum’s proposed research facility to proceed only if the neighborhood could be guaranteed long term open space protection on the surrounding parcel. Why?
Joyce Kilmer Park Was Paved for Joyce Kilmer Parking Lot – in Violation of Deed Restrictions
In 1957, the City granted permission for the construction of the Hebrew Home for the Aged over Joyce Kilmer Park at Centre and Walter Streets. After promising to protect the remaining open space at Joyce Kilmer Park, the City in 1973 (only 16 years later) violated its commitment to the community and allowed the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center to double in size. Most of the remaining parkland was paved for cars and a large concrete parking deck in violation of deed restrictions on the property governing allowable uses and setbacks.
Commitments Made by Harvard and the City to Roslindale Neighbors of the Arnold Arboretum
To avoid a repeat of the Joyce Kilmer Park fiasco and future violations of open space protections by creeping institutional expansion, the community demanded legally enforceable open space protections for the no-build portion of the Weld Hill parcel prior to assenting to any change in zoning at the site.
The Arboteum’s then-director, Robert Cook, committed that the no-build zone at Weld Hill would be folded into the Arborteum and treated under the same protections set to expire in the year 2882.
Dr. Cook committed, and the community agreed, that the only allowable use of the no-build zone at Weld Hill would be a nursery for growing plant material for research purposes.
The development controls language governing the no build zone was written to exclude and prohibit the installation of any solid fence around a future nursery that would block public views of open scape or obscure the natural and open condition of the landscape. This was agreed to by all sides.
During negotiations, when the Arboretum and the BRA claimed that a toolshed may need to be placed on the no build zone temporarily, for construction purposes during the building of the research facility, language was written to allow a temporary tool shed while prohibiting any permanent structures.
The Commitments to Preserve Open Space at Weld Hill Are Protected By Law
The development controls are legally binding. The deed restriction cannot be compromised, reversed or changed by the landowner, or by the City of Boston, or by the public, except by an act of the Massachusetts legislature by a two-thirds majority vote.
Call Your City Councillors, the Mayor and Your Neighbors
Tell them to uphold the deed restriction protecting open space at the Arboretum’s Weld Hill.