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OPINION: Save the Waltham Field Station (Waltham Fields Community Farm)

Save the Waltham Field Station (Waltham Fields Community Farm)

OPINION: Save the Waltham Field Station (Waltham Fields Community Farm)

The folks at Waltham Fields Community Farm posted a piece this morning on their website entitled Save the Waltham Field Station.  At first I was taken aback.  I never considered the prospect of WFCF ceasing its good work.  As I read the piece this sentence stood out like a sore thumb:

"It is our belief that the University is now considering a sale of the property to the City of Waltham."

If the property was sold to the city and a leasing arrangement remained with the WFCF, then nothing would really change — or would it?  In the last few years there have been several debates about parcels of land and the development thereof.  We've been in a contentious debate over a new site for Waltham High School.  We have a school district which has been revitalized and the pupils have been the beneficiaries.  The members of the Waltham School Committee and Dr. Echelson should be commended for demonstrating their faith in the boundless potential of Waltham's youth.  Just look at the Lollibots — they are the epitome of what happens when kids (young women, mind you) are given the opportunity to test themselves and their own potential.  That's Waltham.  It's woven into the history of this community.  We've been the underdogs.  We've been the testing ground for industry, science and developing a multicultural society.   

Oddly enough, another press release came to my attention this morning concerning the Cooper Street development.  The release was issued in March, 2016, I have to say I was surprised to learn that Japan-based Daiwa House Group is a main principal in the project.  Reading their press release, I was astounded there was no mention of our diverse population nor the many programs and services offered by this city which enhances Waltham life. They mention Moody Street businesses and highlight the advantages to living in Waltham.  Of course, the Cooper Street development will have a major impact on Downtown Waltham, especially Moody Street.  Daiwa House Group made it clear there was a target segment they want to attract:

The target customer for this project is mainly in the Generation Y*4 segment, from whom stable rental demand is expected, with a focus on research professionals and employees of major companies with high household incomes residing in the Boston suburbs. 

So what does one have to do with the other?  Well, let's start with Cooper Street.  There's no doubt there are many potential benefits to having the Cooper Street development three minutes away from Moody Street and/or Waltham Common.  The press release from Daiwa House Group certainly sold Waltham as an ideal community in which to live — but we knew that already.  Then there is Michael Columba's vision of a European-style hotel at the Moody Street bridge.  Let me point out this is a LOCAL business man willing to take a chance on Downtown Waltham because he sees the raw potential just waiting to be tapped into.  Having a hospitality component for a revitalized Downtown Waltham is a smart move.  Revitalization projects in Ithaca, NY, Louisville, KY and Wilmington, DE all have some kind of hospitality component in their downtown revitalization plans. 

As Waltham changes over the next few years I hope we remember the lesser among us (I happen to be part of this group).  Our love for Waltham remains strong.  Pushing us out of the city limits may seem like a good idea to a few but the ultimate price paid by this community will be felt down the road.  We have a moral responsibility to ensure that those who take the reins in the future inherit a city filled with promise of even better days ahead.  Waltham Fields Community Farm's organizers and volunteers have talked the talk and walked the walk.  Their work is a vital component to Waltham's promise.  In the event UMASS decides to sell that parcel of land to the City of Waltham, I pray Waltham Fields will be given the chance to remain and continue their work.  To read the Waltham Fields Community Farm piece, click here.