Wellesley Residents Worried About 47-Acre Land Sale

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve

WELLESLEY (CBS) – Forty seven acres of open space is now being sold by Wellesley College and there are plenty of bidders including the town of Wellesley itself.

The signs on front lawns in Wellesley say “Save the North 40” referring to the open space just off busy Weston Road outside Wellesley town center.

The land has been owned by Wellesley College since the 1800’s but now the school is putting it up for sale.

(WBZ-TV)

(WBZ-TV)

Today the open space is a collection of community gardens and trails for hiking. But the college could sell it to a private developer who could potentially put up 80 to 100 houses. Peter Jones is a member of the “Save the North 40” group. They oppose that kind of development.

“We get 16,000 cars a day on Weston Road,” he says. “The traffic is terrible trying to get out of the neighborhoods which surround this area at three o’clock when the kids get out.”

There has been no discussion of a purchase price but the 47 acres is assessed by the town of Wellesley at 25 million dollars which means it would probably sell for more than that.

In a statement to WBZ, Wellesley College says : “For many years, Wellesley College has worked to identify an appropriate use for the North 40. After much deliberation, it was determined that the sale or long-term lease of this property would provide critical resources to support the academic needs and mission of the College. As part of this process, we have been engaged with town officials and the community since last spring, and in the last month, have sought proposals from the Town of Wellesley, private developers, and conservancy organizations.”

Municipal officials say the town itself is one of ten bidders hoping to buy the land from the private college.

Han Larsen is the executive Director for the town of Wellesley.

“It is conceivable we would use it for other municipal purposes such as an elementary school,” he says. “It is conceivable we would do some small housing development there.”

If the town were successful, taxes would go up and voters would have to approve that.

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