Continuing the silver maple forest campaign and discussion

We realize the work of you  as our shining legislator in the matter of the forest, and 4 other legislators who we understand  continue to appeal to reason in behalf of our dwindling natural resources which benefit the Lower Mystic watershed of Belmont, Cambridge, Arlington and Somerville.

Public outpouring has come from Cambridge and Belmont through city and town-wide hearings with top officials, continuous newspaper articles, citizen advocacy with legislators, selectmen and councilors, and Dems of Cambridge, constant visibility and education with tours and presentations, and innumerable other non-profit partnerships and other channels of expression. See now with almost 600 signatures to preserve this forest that you have presented as a Bill to Mass. Legislature 2 times. And the latest article by noted Journalist Dan Proffer on . It is still hard to believe that we may be nowhere, and the state appraisal may or may not advance the cause of public need and fear for the safety of their homes and families in this area of the watershed.

The refusal by Governor Patrick to sign the bill was not surprising to many of us, but we do not have any idea how the appraisal will play out, but are most anxious to hear and to follow this thread of possibility for conservation of the woodlands.

During the most recent hearing in Cambridge, we hear that the developers in that area (THREE) are planning to move ahead (including the woodlands developer) and have spent 2 million dollars of their own for the municipal sewer pump station in Cambridge, despite the Hearings’ directives NOT to give a permit until the Court Case has played out. Although no permits have thus been given outside of Cambridge’s first “flood storage” permit,  we believe the developers are standing in line for these permits if the state rules against us March 2.

Now that the forest has been given to Superior Court rostrom earlier than expected  for March 2 in Woburn, we must be ready and make a concerted effort  for either eventuality, i.e. bringing together our supporters who are not confined to legislative jurisdiction,  but need your support for community expression of the 3 municipalities. I hope that we can bring our concerned citizens together before the state makes its approval so as to move from that spot to another without chaos, confusion and grief.

While I have asked all of my friends and of our mutual supporters to wait until we speak with you so as to know how to  proceed, I am not sure how you feel about it. This is not a personal matter but one with thousands of dollars, homes, environment, animals and birds, rare open space, etc. etc. at stake. If we are given a bad verdict on March 2, many active and concerned citizens will be anxious and desirous to express themselves and to know if any other venues exist and where to turn for assistance. IF we wait until April or later (Depending on when the appraisal is complete), local opportunities and discussion may be quelled, and a permit may be given easily without our diligence.

Thanks for being willing to speak with us at the appointed meeting time of March 1. IF you feel this is a mistake, please let us know. We will need your guidance as to where our campaign might continue.

No one will proceed without your willing support and good wishes.


Ellen Mass

Friends of Alewife Reservation

Published by EllenMass

President Friends of Alewife Reservation

2 replies on “Continuing the silver maple forest campaign and discussion”

  1. Why waiting is not always the best.
    Jan Schlichtmann, the attorney (played by John Travolta in CIVIL ACTION movie) talked to us last night at the Regent theater with perhaps 200 persons in Arlington stating how it is best to get out and meet and talk about the truth of the matter than to wait for Justice to be served, as we will also do. But that is what we are doing on monday as we go to Rep. Brownsberger’s office to deliver 1000 signatures from around the world stating the need to protect and preserve.

    We come to the state house at 1 to your offices as well as the legislators who signed onto the bill that was
    vetoed once and ignored a second time with an appraisal request.

    Perhaps we have been snookered by the behemoth developer who has been buying dirt cheap in the area since 2000 and building a billion dollar empire by acquiring devalued wetlands, and floodplain for himself by buying and selling to himself, so it appears, with most of the land and buildings now owned by AP Partners, and O’Neill alias at exhorbitant sale value of perhaps more than a 100 times. The towns and city have turned eyes away from the floodplain and habitat abuse. Instead of valuing the land and waterways at a high value so as to protect them, they have been selling off to the highest bidder. As soon as one developer moves forward, all of the others will join in to destroy our rich urban wild, the largest untouched urban wild in the Boston area. And we citizens in Cambridge, Belmont and Arlington are also the victims as well as the fox, coyote, deer, birds and mink and otter.

    Why doesn’t someone investigate.
    As we go from state house office to state house office on monday we will be asking for an investigation
    into the practices of property robbery and business ownership transfers to itself and how can
    one without permits be buying a sewer pump station for the city of Cambridge at 2 million dollars. IT looks like Mr. O’Neill’s company, AP Partners bought the station or shared it with the other 2 anxious to clear the land. Faces owner has for years been a spokesperson for the other 2 developers, the main one being O’Neill. What is going on that no one knows or cares, or perhaps I am terribly naieve and do not know that this is ‘business as is normally practiced’.
    I am ignorant of these matters, and perhaps should allow the business world to interpret all of this for us silly little citizens. Wish some one would let me know that I am way off base and do
    not know the real circumstances and should be quiet. I am waiting for someone to tell me that as it would be appreciated and then I would stop losing so much sleep over what is about to happen.

    Jan Schlichtmann is a great hero of many persons in the Mystic River watershed as he forced the federal agency to force payments for the dead children of Woburn. HE continues doing the same thing with Tom’s river where very high cases of Leukemia are found around huge industrial waste areas, still plaguing the watersheds of America. Once again, he says, don’t wait for the courts,
    but talk about it and work towards an information blitz among citizens as they will be the ones
    to inspire and keep the truth from being buried.

    Thanks for meeting with us Rep. Brownsberger. We will want you to give us a meeting date where
    we can speak about how to move forward whether EOEEA gives us a low or a high appraisal of the land. This is for the future of our neighborhoods. the present bacteria and sediment toxicity in
    Alewife Brook is not sustainable, and the city and MWRA in their new storm water project, however wonderful it will be to separate the sewer from stormwater and retain the storm water in a basin, much more conservation work will have to be generated. And abuse of our floodplain by
    owners in the area will have to stop to remain a sustainable region.

    Below is a short press release of our Woburn Superior Court Civil Action case.

    Where is the Evidence?
    Superior Court Hears Silver Maple Forest
    Thank you to Attorneys

    Several of we Cambridge residents came to the Superior Court in Woburn this past Wednesday to hear arguments of Thomas Bracken representing the Coalition to Preserve the Belmont Uplands and Winn Brook Neighborhood, and Friends of Alewife Reservation, together with Faustino Lichauco of the Belmont Conservation Commission. Special thanks to our Attorneys who are appealing the Error of Law in dismissing all evidence, testimony and cross-examination of professional witnesses. Both attorneys noted that the Decision in favor of DEP by Judge Roby in 2009 is in violation of Administrative Procedures Act 11-8. This Act states that all records of hearing must be considered in a final judgement.

    They also appealed the Judge’s denial of flood prediction information of noted firm Horsley and Witten Inc. based on developer’s questionable storm design plans .

    Ken Salinger of the Attorney General’s office and representing DEP for the developer, stated the wildlife assessment, based on where the building footprint lay, (which covers most of the wooded forest), was not necessary to do. In addition, he argued that the developer had no obligation to conduct any flooding assessments and that flooded basements are not evidence. He said just because evidence is not recorded, does not mean it is not used, even though it is live testimony.

    It was shocking for us to hear that DEP Hearing tapes were lost for nearly all 10 months of deliberation, so that plaintiffs were denied its transcript benefits and were given misinformation about the missing tapes. (First 3 tapes were found, then later 5, and so on from DEP authorities after the decision fact.) Bracken said it was a waste to pay for tapes after the Judge had refused to consider the witnesses and testimony and Plaintiffs concurred.

    Lichauco made a strong case in behalf of the witnesses who were nearly all professionals. One witness was employed as a federal storm water regulator, yet his testimony was omitted.

    Bracken brilliantly demonstrated that the building plan failed to replicate the amount of destroyed wildlife habitat and clearly fell short of regulations required by DEP.
    He also noted, that because of omissions and refusal to consider the entire record, the Belmont Uplands silver maple case should be stricken from the record. It may be remanded back to DEP for further review and possibly back to the Belmont Conservation Commission to be re-considered.

    The fundamentals of the case are based on clearing of trees and filling in the wetlands, but we would be hard-pressed to find these environmental essentials recognized by the developer, DEP or the Attorney General, although in this case, all 3 parties testify as one entity.
    Ellen Mass, Sylvia Gilman, Andrea Wilder, Judy Johnson – Cambridge residents.
    Stephanie Liu- Belmont, Virginia Fuller- Belmont

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