Newton Aldermen Opt to Fight Ruling on Middle Campus

Newton Aldermen Opt to Fight Ruling on Middle Campus

After meeting in a closed executive session, the Newton Board of Aldermen has voted to appeal the recent Massachusetts Land Court decision on Boston College's Middle Campus Project.

The vote, which became official on Feb. 19, sets in motion a legal challenge to Judge Karyn Scheier's Jan. 22 ruling that had cleared the way for the construction of three interconnected buildings on the BC campus alongside College Road.

The aldermen voted to file the notice of appeal after being briefed on the ruling by city lawyers. Their decision drew criticism from numerous Newton residents who questioned the wisdom of allocating additional tax dollars to fight a ruling that most legal experts have described as "appeal proof."

"I am deeply disturbed by the Newton Board of Aldermen's decision to appeal Judge Karyn Scheier's recent decision," said Newton resident Martha Hincks, an academic counselor in BC's Learning Resources for Student Athletes, in a letter to Boston College and Newton Mayor David Cohen. "It was bad enough to have watched my tax money be thrown into the original court case, but to see further money, time and effort be spent on an appeal is ludicrous."

Despite the inconvenience caused by the aldermen's decision to appeal, University administrators expressed optimism that the decision would be upheld and that the buildings would be built as planned.

"The inherent flaw in municipal judicial decisions is that the attorneys who lose the cases are the same people who are entrusted with arguing whether or not to appeal them," said Director of Public Affairs Jack Dunn. "While we are disappointed that the aldermen have chosen to appeal Judge Scheier's ruling, we are confident that her ruling will be upheld."

Speculation has abounded in Newton as to whether or not the city will actually pursue the appeal once the case is called before the State Appeals Court. Political observers cite Newton's various needs, from new contracts for city teachers and police officers to much-needed improvements in city services, as priorities that may cause the aldermen to reconsider their decision.

"As a taxpayer, I think it would be a waste of time and money for Newton to prolong a fight that it has no chance of winning," said Newton resident Sherm Waller in a recent interview. "I have always felt pride in having BC be a part of our city, despite the occasional inconveniences. The board needs to consider the opinions of all Newton residents instead of a handful of Chestnut Hill residents who have forced this issue on the rest of us."

-Compiled by Office of Public Affairs staff


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