Surrounded by Hammond Pond Parkway, Route 9, the Green Line, and residential neighborhoods, the western part of Webster Woods is big enough to get lost in, and I did, briefly, when I stopped to talk and fell behind the large group taking a walking tour of the land Saturday morning.
Congregation Mishkan Tefila owns the middle portion of the woods west of Hammond Pond Parkway, 22 acres, according to the Assessor's Database (though elsewhere described as 24 acres or 28 acres). The Congregation has shrunk, they want to downsize to a smaller facility, and have reportedly reached a tentative agreement to sell the land to Boston College. This would presumably satisfy the stipulation that the land be used for religious or educational purposes for 99 years from the date Mishkan Tefila acquired it from the state in 1954, but it would not prevent BC from developing the land. (And after 2053, I guess all bets are off.) The only portion protected would be the vernal pool along the southern edge, and a 100ft buffer, protected as wetlands.
The Newton Conservators, nearby neighbors, and other residents from elsewhere in Newton, are mobilizing to try to save this integral part of the woods from the risk of development. One of the neighbors, Rory Altman, led the well-attended Saturday walk, and others told stories about kids growing up using the woods, and about the vernal pool (drier than it should be, even in summer, due to the recent drought).
It was a revaluation to me, as I'd associated the woods with Hammond Pond Parkway, to learn how easy it is to get to, with multiple entrances from the streets off of Langley Road, Now that I know how easy it is to get to, I'll be back for more exploring (though probably not until the campaign is over).Here's the video I shot. I missed the caves (located on Newton's portion of the land), because I stopped to talk to Margaret Primack, who told me of her husband Richard Primark's parents' involvement with an earlier effort to "Save the Vale." Let's hope this time it can be saved in perpetuity.