The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

  • The Friends have worked with the MDC (now the Department of Conservation and Recreation), Senator Cynthia Creem, Representatives Kay Khan and Ruth Balser, and many other elected officials to preserve the hemlocks from the predators that are destroying them, and to improve access to the reservation by building and beautifying a parking lot on vacant city land, and working with the MDC and the Army Corps of Engineers to preserve the historic Stone Building on the site.
  • In the future, we will continue to fight the woolly adelgid, improve the Stone Building (with generous donations from members and from the foundation of Alderman Amy Mah Sangiolo and Mr. John Sangiolo), build a Friends' Bridge from the Needham to the Wellesley Bank and designate the Reservation as a National Natural Landmark, and renovate Echo Bridge. If you would like to participate in these activities, please visit our website at or join us at our monthly meetings at the Emerson Community Center (Most meetings are on the first Tuesday of the Month at 7:15. See the Friends' Web Site for up to the minute details).
Friends' President Alderman Brian Yates congratulates Forester Charlie Burnham on the long anticipated occasion of the release of latdybugs to combat the wooly adelgid, May 2, 2001.

  • With the assistance and advocacy of State Representative Ruth Balser and Senate Natural Resources Committee Chair Pamela Resor, the Friends have been successful in getting the Mass. Water Resources Authority to repair the Echo Station under Echo Bridge and the stairway to it.. We will continue to work with Rep. Balser to get the money to replace the metal work on the Bridge and the stairs down to Ellis Street.
  • The new Department of Conservation and Recreation has reached out hold a series of meetings to build partnerships with groups like the Friends. We have also been invited to meet with the partnership staff of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
  • An effort by Friends groups across the region has borne fruit as Hammond Pond Parkway and other metropolitan parkways have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by Secretary of State William Galvin.

Progress at Hemlock Gorge

Lights are on at the Stone Building

After a difficult two or three year hiatus, the efforts of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge and Site Supervisor Erica Aubin have borne fruit. The electrical fault that prevented delivery of electricity to the Stone Building in Hemlock Gorge has been repaired. Power and lighting is again. available. I invite all citizens to join me and the Friends for the annual Spring and Fall Cleanups of the reservation. Our Fall Cleanup just took place in October. The dates for the Spring Cleanup will be announced soon. Cleanups are held from 9:30 a.m. to noon. After the cleanup, we'll have lunch for all volunteers in our newly re-lit historic Stone Building.

The Echo Bridge Promenade Remains Open!

The MWRA notified the public in March that they intended to close the pedestrian Promenade on Echo Bridge in Hemlock Gorge Reservation in 2006 for "safety reasons."

A building inspection convinced the MWRA of what we've being saying for decades. The 1876 original cast iron railings are badly rusted and need to be replaced.

The photo shows me pointing out a deteriorated railing atop the Bridge in 2004.

In March, 2006 the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) closed Echo Bridge. However, in response to the efforts of the Friends and local officials and residents, the MWRA installed temporary fencing and re-opened the Bridge. To secure a permanent solution, the Friends and community leaders have worked through with the legislature to secure funding for the needed repairs, and $250,000 for the “Echo Bridge Safety Project” was appropriated in 2007 and is now in the hands of the MWRA.

The MWRA has conducted a study of possible repair strategies. Historically correct repairs would cost $1 million. The Friends plan to assist the MWRA to secure the remaining $750,000 that is needed. One possibility is to secure Community Preservation Act funds from Newton ($500,000) and Needham ($250,000). We will also continue to seek out alternative strategies to possibly repair and preserve the existing railings in place. The full text of the MWRA report is available as a PDF file for downloading at the website of The Friends of Hemlock Gorge. Click here to download the report.

We are now at an acceptable state: a chain link fence that meets the safety requirements of the MWRA has been installed inside the old railings. Although only a temporary solution, we are pleased that people can continue to enjoy this wonderful promenade as we seek funds for a definitive fix.

If you have any expertise in the restoration or replacement of Cast Iron Railings, please contact me at

Other Progress at Hemlock Gorge

Thanks to a Public-Private partnership of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge and the DCR, a new floor was installed in the Stone Building downstream of Echo Bridge. This will provide a sheltered venue for citizens' groups meeting in the Hemlock Gorge Reservation. For more information, please see the website of The Friends of Hemlock Gorge.

Thanks to Advocacy from Representative Ruth Balser and Senate Natural Resources Committee Chair Pam Resor, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) accomplished long needed maintenance and repairs to the Echo Station under Echo Bridge and the stairs leading to it.

In addition, the Friends of Hemlock Gorge, of which I am honored to be the President, received an award from The Green Decade Coalition for Environmental Leadership.

Again, for more details please visit the Friends of Hemlock Gorge web site.

Topic Date: 
Monday, November 9, 2009


Brian E. Yates
Councilor At Large
Ward 5

1094 Chestnut St.
Newton, MA 02464

My campaign for re-election in 2017 is now underway. Please look through this website for information on my qualifications, viewpoints, and accomplishments.


Brian E. Yates Councilor At Large