Alewife Update: Flooding and Related Projects

A meeting was held in the State House this morning with Commissioner Sullivan of the Department of Conservation and Recreation to review flooding and related priorities in the Alewife area. With Commissioner Sullivan were Bill Gode, Director of Flood Control and Dan Bertrand, legislative liaison.

Area legislators were present or represented, including Senators Donnelly and Tolman and Reprepresentatives Sciortino, Provost, Garballey and myself. Also present were Clarissa Rowe, Chair of the Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge Stormwater Flooding Board and Brian Sullivan, Arlington Town Manager.

Here are the highlights of the meeting:

  • A recent study of the sediment in the Alewife Brook confirms the presence of hazardous materials — heavy metals, hydrocarbons, etc. — in moderate quantities. This study replicates findings from an earlier study done in the 80s. Commissioner Sullivan will work with his staff to define next steps to approaching the Army Corps of Engineers to request a dredging project. This would also have flood control benefits. This project may cost in the hundreds of millions and will take one or two decades to get scoped and funded.
  • The Blaire Pond dredging project will begin construction in December 2010 and be complete in June 2011. This project has been many years in the making and responds to concerns about possible occlusion of the Pond. Much of Belmont’s storm water drains through Claypit and Blaire Ponds out the Little River. The risk of occlusion was identified originally by Cambridge Engineers to the Tri-Community Flooding group.
  • The Mystic Lakes dam reconstruction project continues to move forward — this is a basic dam safety project with collateral flood control benefits. Concerns were raised by Senator Donnelly and Manager Sullivan about an agreement to rebuild access roads around the dam. Commissioner Sullivan said that a letter reaffirming that agreement would be forthcoming shortly for review by the Senator and by the Town of Arlington.
  • The Craddock Bridge reconstruction project is now under the management of the Department of Transportation as part of the Accelerated Bridge Program. This is an issue for potential follow-up with DOT.
  • Great progress on the following three projects was noted and appreciated — debris removal in the Alewife Brook, rehabilitation of the McCrehan pool buildings, and cleanup of the Bicentennial Park in Arlington.
  • The Ameila Earhart pump project was also discussed as an additional possible federal funding priority. It is important to DCR and to the communities, but there is no clear pathway to funding it from state or local resources — the cost will be in the neighborhood of $15 million.
  • The issue of construction noise due to the bikepath near Dilboy Field was raised and the Commissioner said he would cause a letter to be sent to all those involved in construction there to avoid starting engines before 7AM
  • I raised the issue of the Silver Maple Forest and noted that the developer seemed to be moving towards construction there and that now is the time for DCR to act to preserve this land if they have any ability to do so.

For previous posts related to these issues, see this link.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

4 replies on “Alewife Update: Flooding and Related Projects”

  1. Will, I realize that if we have you over to meet some neighbors in East Arlington during the fall, Alewife Brook will be a big topic. I forget because I was among the fortunate — when my neighbors up and down Fairmont, Lafayette, Boulevard, Thorndike, Magnolia, and Herbert were filled with water in their basements this spring/summer, our house was bone dry. But it was a soggy mess and health hazard close by. I gather there is also concern (not sure how well founded) that the new Alewife Brook trail will increase flood problems.

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