North 40 Update

North 40 Update

This summer and fall, the College continued to explore nonacademic development for the North 40—the 47 acres across Route 135 and the railroad from Munger and the Hazard Quad—the proceeds of which would be put into renewal of the core campus. (See “The North 40’s Future,” summer 2014.) At press time, the College was reviewing 13 proposals for purchase or lease of the property, including from developers and the town of Wellesley. The administration sought proposals from nature conservancies, but did not find any interested in purchasing the property.

The College completed many assessments of the property over the summer, including environmental tests, particularly related to the five acres of the land that had been used as a residential municipal landfill in the 1950s; examinations of the area’s natural resources, which found that there is one vernal pool and no endangered species in the area; and evaluations of the area’s infrastructure and traffic concerns.

Wellesley aims to find “the highest and best use of the property, thereby making the most of the College’s resources, while taking into consideration any potential concerns our neighbors and the campus community may have,” President H. Kim Bottomly wrote in an update on Sept. 9. Marianne Brons Cooley ’81, clerk of the Board of Trustees and assistant to the president, adds that highest and best use does not imply the Trustees will only consider the highest offer.

The College originally planned to make a final decision regarding the North 40 later this year but concluded the matter could not be adequately considered to meet a Wellesley Town Meeting date in October. “Given the importance of the North 40 to our shared community, both the College and the Town recognize the need to allow further time to complete these important deliberations. Accordingly, the two parties have agreed to defer final decisions by the Trustees and Town Meeting until a later date,” the College and the town of Wellesley announced in a joint statement on Oct. 16.

Various groups have voiced opposition to the sale or lease of the property, including local residents (with concerns about traffic, loss of green space, and the potential strain on town resources), faculty and staff, and alumnae. The College held a town-hall meeting on the status of its non-core properties in September, where Wellesley community members expressed their concerns about the College selling the North 40.

The Board of Trustees was also set to make a decision in late October regarding the sale of the Rollins lot, located on Washington Street between Leighton and Cottage Streets, opposite the main campus. This land was purchased in 1945 with the intent of being used for a faculty-housing program. Two lots were purchased by faculty members, but the program was discontinued for lack of faculty interest in the remaining five lots, and the land has remained vacant.

For more information on the status of the North 40, visit

View a larger version of the map of the North 40 featured in this article.

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