Rendering of Pine Tree Preserve and Campanella Way realignment viewed from Chestnut Hill Reservoir Path. (Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects)
Pine Tree Preserve, a four-acre parcel of woodland on Thomas More Road adjacent to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, will be opened to the Boston College community and general public as a result of a public access and management agreement between the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the University.
The site, owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and previously inaccessible to the public, will now feature pedestrian walkways, park benches, viewing areas, and lighting. Boston College will make the improvements to the preserve by removing dead trees and building the walking trails. Upon completion, BC will oversee maintenance of the property, while the MWRA will retain ownership. It is scheduled to open in late October.
The agreement to open up Pine Tree Preserve resulted from ongoing conversations between the MWRA, which has sought to open enclosed parcels of state land to the public in recent years, and Boston College, which had long viewed the fenced-in woodlands as an underutilized resource.
At the request of University President William P. Leahy, S.J., BC’s government affairs team, led by Vice President for Governmental and Community Affairs Thomas Keady, worked with MWRA Executive Director Frederick Laskey to forge the agreement that will benefit Boston College and the surrounding community. Tree removal began in late July and is scheduled to be completed within weeks. Completion of the walkway and lighting is expected by October 31.
As part of the project, Campanella Way has been reconfigured to exit onto Thomas More Road to the right of Pine Tree Preserve. The former roadway exit alongside the Connell Recreation Complex will be converted to grass.
“This agreement between the MWRA and Boston College will provide pedestrian access to a wooded area with scenic views of the reservoir for all members of the community to enjoy,” said Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead, who oversaw the project. “It is an example of a successful partnership between the Commonwealth and the University that will provide benefits for all.”
The Chestnut Hill Reservoir was constructed between 1866 and 1870 to meet the growing water demands of the City of Boston. Its 212 acres originally consisted of the Lawrence Basin, named after textile manufacturer Amos Adams Lawrence, the Bradlee Basin, named after Nathaniel J. Bradlee, then president of the Cochituate Water Board, and Pine Tree Preserve. The Lawrence Basin was phased out in 1950 after the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. It was sold to Boston College and is now the site of much of the Lower Campus, including Alumni Stadium, undergraduate residence halls, and BC recreational facilities.
The Chestnut Hill Reservoir was taken off-line in 1978, but is maintained as an emergency water supply. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a City of Boston landmark. Its stone-paved 1.5 mile path has become a popular walking and jogging area for local residents and members of the BC community.
—Jack Dunn | University Communications