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Newton, MA Parks and Recreation


logoWith the popular show Parks and Recreation starring Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope becoming a hit, many might wonder about the Parks and Rec department of their own cities. Does it run anything like the Pawnee Parks and Rec department does in the show? Are there similar goals and interests? And more specifically to Newton, what has our Parks and Recreation Department done to better our city?

Here's a brief fact sheet on what you should know about Newton's Parks and Recreation.


General Information

According to the Newton Parks and Recreation website, the department's mission is "to provide traditional and innovative Recreation, Leisure and Cultural Activities in a quality environment for all residents of Newton, as well as managing the preservation, maintenance, and enhancement of the natural resources of the City."

robert derubeis

The Newton Parks & Recreation Commissioner is Robert DeRubeis. He can be contacted:

124 Vernon Street

Newton, MA 02458


(fax) 617-796-1512

The Recreation Commission meets on the third Monday (if a holiday falls on the 3rd Monday, the meeting takes place on the 4th) of each month at 7:00 pm. It is located at Newton City Hall on 1000 Commonwealth Avenue, in Room 209.

There are several aspects of the Parks and Recreation Department. Here's a brief overview of some that might interest you.



With summer around the corner, (hopefully!) it will be time to soak up the sun and head back to the pool. But swimming isn't just about splashing around with your friends. There are lots of safety precautions that should be taken. The City of Newton's Parks and Recreation department offers the American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Program to residents. It features 6 levels of learn to swim instructions to help swimmers of all ages and abilities to develop their swimming and water safety skills. Click here for more details on the Red Cross Program.

If you're interested in being an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, click here.

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There is also a Lifeguard Training Course, which is held at the beginning of March on Wednesday and Thursday nights at the conclusion of the Newton Swim Team Season. The minimum age is 15 years old and attendance and participation in all classes is mandatory. Click here for more details and to see if you fit the pre-requisite skills.


Crystal Lake is one of two "great ponds" located within the City of Newton. Used as a recreational space, it serves its community with swim programs run by the Parks and Recs Department at the Gil Champagne Bathhouse, it allows for "Catch and Release" fishing programs, and other organized activities, including a newly organized adult birding club. It also offers a great number of informal activities-- walking, jogging, picnicking, dog walking, small animal studies, various activities on the lawn, and simply relaxing to take in the peaceful view. Because of its important influence in our community, a Crystal Lake Task Force (CLTF) has been appointed by the city to take advantage of opportunities to expand and improve access to the lakes and its environs. Click here for more details on Crystal Lake. And to check out more information on the CLTF click here.

If you have any other questions regarding aquatics, check out the FAQ's on the Parks and Recreation website.

City Parks

Newton has several beautiful city parks for its residents to enjoy. These pocket parks have both passive and active recreation areas. From areas for sports activities to small neighborhood areas to sit and enjoy to walking trails, these parks are perfect to enjoy in the upcoming spring and summer months. For a complete list of parks, click here.

While dogs on a leash are welcome at any parks, Newton has also been involved in creating Off-Leash parks for dog owners who want off-leash time with their pets. These parks are shared with other park owners, and help maximize the use and enjoyment of the open spaces. They can be found at Braceland Playground, Cabot Park, Claflin Playground, Hunnewell Park McGrath Park, Newton Center Playground, and Old Cold Spring Park. For more information on these off-leash dog parks, click here.

To reserve a playing field, click here.

To reserve a picnic area, click here.

If you want to learn more about the city parks from your Parks and Recreation department, click here.

Indoor Recreation Centers

The Parks and Recreation department operates a Recreation Program Center at the facilities of Newton North and Newton South High School. The access to each facility is program based, with each program running for a specified time and with a specified cost per person. Click here to go to the registration pages.

"Over 55" Recreation Programs

For our residents that are 55 years and older, there are several programs specifically geared to your liking. Nancy Scammon is the Senior Adult Director of the Parks and Recreation Department and can be reached at 617-796-1506 as well as through her email

Check out the Over 55 Brochure here.

Therapeutic Recreation

This is the 35th anniversary for the Therapeutic Recreation program for the Parks and Recreation department. The sports programs that have been offered to residents with disabilities by the therapeutic recreation department has become an important part of Newton. They have facilitated long-standing friendships, built self-confidences, improved physical and mental healths of the athletes, promoted volunteerism, community giving, and have overall improved the quality of life. They strive to provide and encourage physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.

For more information on Therapeutic Recreation and to see what special events and programs are offered, click here.

Urban Forestry

For over 100 years, Newton has been actively caring for street trees, park trees, and other trees located in the open spaces. This includes 26,000 street trees and countless trees on the City's owned open spaces. The Newton Urban Forestry Program's mission is to "preserve a safe, healthy public tree population that maximizes the benefits gained from the urban forest while striving to resolve the concerns of their customers, encourage community and private partnerships, while providing cost effective professional care.

To learn more about Urban Forestry and see what they have been doing in our community, click here.