Keep Spears Park at Walnut Park and Washington Street in Newton an open space

Keep Spears Park at Walnut Park and Washington Street in Newton an open space

November 9, 2022
Signatures: 227Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Jennifer Frenette


Please help support keeping the open area (known as Spears Park) at the corner of Walnut Park and Washington Street the way it is with trees and grass- no fences, sheds, driveways, stone dust, paths, etc. 

There is a proposal for a Community Garden to be built on the Spears Park spot. The abutters and neighbors are PRO open space NOT anti-Community Garden, we just oppose the location of this garden for the following reasons:

  • Traffic/Parking - Cars, people - overall congestion is already horrible at this proposed Community Garden’s exact spot. With 2 active schools, 2 additional schools and elderly housing being added right down the street and now this garden with 30 beds (potentially 30 additional people gathering here for lengths of time) the project will absolutely add to an already intense bottleneck and limited street parking. Just because there are bike/bus routes and it is encouraged does not guarantee people will use them - people will absolutely drive especially with garden materials
  • Pests - Rats are already an issue in this area. The garden will provide food, water, compost and barrels/trash for flies, rats and other pests.
  • Cost - Focus city money on essential must need projects. Upwards of 20K have been spent just on renderings. Water needs to be installed, sheds, fencing, pathways, etc. Leave it as is and it costs nothing
  • Upkeep/Maintenance – Plan depends on volunteers for weeding, upkeep, etc. We look directly at the lot and are concerned with attention to detail, frequency of weeding, waning involvement. The bulk of the year is fall and winter - non growing season when a garden looks it worst. No trees will protect this view from our homes. We love our open space in all seasons, requiring little or no maintenance 
  • Accessibility – The land was left to the city by a private resident to be kept open as is for all to use. There are at least 15-20 people who use this land everyday – to sit, rest on a blanket, play soccer, walk their dogs, etc. This Community Garden will not allow the area to be an open inclusive place anymore for these people or for us neighbors
  • Unanswered questions 
    • How many people actually have signed up and have interest in THIS garden location and what form of transport will they take to this location?
    • If pests become an issue in our home and yards – who will help/pay for it?
    • What is the exit strategy if usage declines and volunteers don’t keep up with maintenance?
    • What studies/best practices let us know this location is correct - what other Community Gardens are next to multiple schools, on a highly traveled main street, close to single family homes with no parking?
    • There is noise and air pollution from the Mass Pike, Washington Street, multiple bus routes, fire stations, heavily travelled train tracks, air traffic., etc. does this lend itself to a gathering place for multiple people to have discussions and talk?
    • Has a traffic/parking study been done that includes the new Lincoln Elliot School, the new swing school (old Lincoln Elliot), new elderly housing Hayward House, this Community garden as well as the 2 existing schools– all city planners working together?
    • Would the supporters of the garden accept and want a garden in front of their homes with the most undesirable parts of the project (driveway, sheds, fences, community boards) facing their homes?
    • Will the garden be open to people outside of Newton? How will those people be vetted and if they come from a greater distance will they not drive?
    • The schools have been notified but have the parents of the students at the schools been informed - will they want more people, potential pests near there children's play areas and increased traffic? 

None of the people who want this garden live directly near it or on Walnut Park at all. They will not have to deal with the negatives the garden brings to those of us who do live here. The actual neighbors were not consulted until plans were already drawn up and we all feel very disappointed in how advanced the planning was before we were notified. 

The opinions of the neighbors/abutters where the garden would be located should matter the most – not the least. For a project that wants to foster community and bring people together it is actually doing the exact opposite with dividing neighbors. 

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Signatures: 227Next Goal: 500
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