Saturday, April 20, 2024

Restrictions for people wanting to walk Norton’s Woods at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences will stay in place — meaning dogs aren’t allowed and the woodsy area is closed weekends — until damage from spring flooding is assessed and repaired, sources said Friday.

Academy managers and city councillor Marjorie Decker met Thursday morning to discuss the restrictions and resulting anger from neighbors, according to Decker’s office and academy spokesman Paul Karoff, but the meeting was to explain academy actions and did not roll back the rules posted a little over two weeks ago. The grounds had been closed for a month before that.

“We have had to restrict access for safety reasons, and until we resolve those safety concerns, which we’re working on, the current policy will remain,” Karoff said Friday. Changes will come “not in the next few days, no,” but after arborists return in the next few days to look over the five-plus acres and determine what repairs are needed to make the land safe for use again.

About half the existing grounds is estimated to be fenced off from flood damage.

The 230-year-old policy research center is on land leased from Harvard University, but that’s the extent of the relationship, an academy official said. It is off-duty Harvard University security officers earning extra money that are standing guard at the site. Security officers from elsewhere could be used, the official said.

Decker’s office said Thursday that there would be a memo or press release issued, but it hadn’t been released by the time City Hall closed at noon Friday. Decker did not return a call seeking comment.