The Town of Wellesley has agreed to buy the North 40 property from Wellesley College for $35M, largely ending the first act of a drama that has riled up neighbors, put the school on the defensive and sparked broad thinking about where the town goes from here on its schools, recreation and housing. The town had been one of 5 final bidders.
— Jordan R. Mayblum (@TownsmanJordan) December 18, 2014
The town has explored various uses for the land — housing, a school, recreational facilities among them — if it were to buy it.
Save the North 40 supporters are rejoicing at the news:
— Michael Tobin (@MichaelRTobin) December 18, 2014
You should be able to catch a recording of the Board of Selectmen meeting on Wellesley Media soon (they live streamed it).
Here’s a note from Wellesley College about the deal:
Dear Friend of Wellesley College,
I would like to thank you for your interest in the future of the North 40. I am writing to you because you asked to receive information and communications related to this parcel of land, and so I wanted you to know that our Board of Trustees has selected the Town of Wellesley’s bid to purchase the North 40 for $35 million. Later today, the College and the Town will jointly announce this decision to the public.
We are very excited about this development, especially to share the news that under this agreement more than half of the North 40 property will be preserved in perpetuity as open space. As you may know from prior communications, the College received 13 proposals for the purchase of the land. There were offers that would have generated more revenue, but our long-standing history of constructive partnership with the Town led us to choose its proposal. We are delighted that the Town’s proposal is so responsiveness to the issues of open space, sustainability, and impact on neighbors and Town services.
Over the past seven months, the College has received input from its constituencies about the future of the North 40. The terms of this agreement include many of the considerations raised by interested parties, including:
- Maintenance of at least 50 percent of the North 40 acreage as open space in perpetuity;
- Preservation of the portion of the property south of the aqueduct as natural, forested open space, which provides a natural buffer for the campus along Route 135;
- Agreement by the Town not to put a road within 1000 feet of the College’s existing Route 135 entrance;
- Provision for the future of the community gardens, including the Regeneration student farm;
- Protection from light pollution per the International Dark-Sky Association guidelines;
- Adoption of standards for sustainable development on the property equivalent to the College’s own, which target LEED Gold; and
- Inclusion of the College’s voice in Town planning for the future of the land.
We encourage you to visit our website for more information and details on the sale of the North 40.
A spokesman for the Town, Selectman Don McCauley, noted that the Town is extremely pleased to have reached this agreement, saying that, “Acquisition of the North 40 will enable the Town to control the future development of this important parcel in a thoughtful manner, and provides great opportunities to preserve open space, satisfy municipal needs and ensure continued access to recreational land for Wellesley residents.”
We anticipate that this sale of land will become final as soon as late spring, after a number of contractual requirements are met. These include the approval of the purchase at Special Town Meeting, likely scheduled for early 2015; a due diligence review by the Town; a vote by residents to approve the necessary funds; and a successful bond offering.
The land came to sale after the College sought and was granted the right to sell the North 40 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May 2014. The College has acquired an additional 180 acres of land since the time of the Durant Indenture and Will, including 10 acres in 2010; this acreage provides significant College expansion opportunities if needed. By selling the North 40, Wellesley will gain additional financial resources to support its current campus renewal plan, which is dedicated to meeting the future academic and residential needs of the College through the renovation of its historic and beloved buildings and campus.
Over the past months, neighbors, alumnae, faculty, and students have voiced many different opinions on the North 40-and for that we are grateful. It is clear that we all share a deep attachment to Wellesley’s campus, and we believe that this outcome best balances the needs of the College and our greater community.
I wish you well during this holiday season.
Vice President for Finance and Administration