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Advocacy

We advocate for Town policies that encourage high maintenance standards, best management practices, and appropriate allocation of fiscal resources. We work with Town agencies and management to assure a high conservation ethic, as well as efficient use of fiscal resources. We are also devoted advocates for the restoration of the Muddy River and the Emerald Necklace Park system in Brookline and Boston. Some of the areas we have helped to protect or enhance in Brookline include Putterham Woods, Larz Anderson park, Amory Woods, the Longyear Estate, and the campus of the Main Library in Brookline. Learn about current issues and how you can help protect our unique legacy of open space in Brookline by visiting the links at the left.

Click here for a history of open space leadership in brookline.

Click here for the BGSA position on the proposed Baldwin School.

Is parkland available for building when competing town needs arise? GreenSpace president says no. A No Net Loss Policy and Land Acquisition Fund make sense for Brookline.

Green Space - An Essential Resource
Green space serves the whole community. Parkland is not free land…..to be used as surplus land when the need arises.

Well-designed, accessible open space is crucial to public health, supporting a physically active and healthy population. Additionally, there are links between open space and climate change and a healthy environment. Green space improves air quality and reduces the growing problem of the urban heat island effect. Increased urban greening helps reduce the negative impacts of stormwater pollution and flooding, both of which will likely worsen with climate change. Green space helps protect wetland resources. Open space strategies can even help reduce energy consumption.

Open space provides the public benefits of recreational opportunities and visual relief in the most dense urban areas of town.

No one in Brookline will benefit from reduced open space. The taking of open space will come with many negatives, is often irreversible, and will not solve immediate problems. A no net loss of open space is the only forward-looking policy that protects Brookline’s quality of life and environment.

Consideration of the topography of many of Brookline’s open spaces must also be factored in if we were ever to consider building on current green spaces. Many of our parks were wetlands with drainage problems. In South Brookline for example, the draining and filling of wetlands, as well as building beside small open sections of streams and wetlands, have caused water problems for residents. Putterham Meadows, once a wetland converted to a public golf course, still plays a vital role in managing water.

The hydrologic cycle of precipitation and evaporation has been altered due to population growth and development. Instead of recharging groundwater, a large amount of rain falls on impervious areas, such as rooftops, driveways, parking lots and streets, and flows directly into the stormwater drainage system made up of catch basins and series of connected pipes that discharge into the Muddy River or other tributaries, which eventually reaches the Charles River. This altered, or "man made," water cycle creates three significant interrelated problems: reduced infiltration of water into the soils; increased pollution to lakes, ponds, wetlands, and streams; and increased flooding. (source: Brookline 2010 Open Space Plan). Our open spaces play a significant positive role in maintaining balance in the handling of stormwater and the avoidance of pollution and flooding.

Reducing open space has implications for years and generations to come. It does not make our community better.

Brookline needs a land acquisition fund that allows the purchase of private property when community commitments require additional space (the Open Space Plan recommends additional 35 acres of open space to meet population demands). Intelligent planning for the future would include such a line item in the Town’s annual budget as well as other strategies to fund land acquisition.

Very careful analysis of Town and school needs, basic assumptions about our goals, and alternatives must be part of any major decisions. In the current case of deciding about the need for additional school space and appropriate educational approaches, every venue, program, and possibility should be examined before decisions are made that impact the majority of Brookline residents, our health, and that of the environment. If after examination of the school program, the need for increased classroom space is determined; this still is not a reason to diminish open space. Alternatives to such drastic measures can be found with creativity and flexibility and smart planning. It is hard to re-think our starting points, to consider educational options not previously considered, to think outside the box; but within the scope of the possible, let’s never rush to a solution which includes giving up the green spaces that add so much to the quality of our lives.

Parkland is not free land because it is owned by the Town. Parks, fields, natural areas provide for citizens young and old; they are essential. The solutions to town problems do not lie in the reduction of green space.

Arlene Mattison