Progress on the Uplands acquisition

The Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets gave
our bill to acquire the Belmont Uplands a hearing yesterday and I was very
grateful both to the committee and to the dozens of people who came from
Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge to support the acquisition.

The hearing accomplished our initial goal: to make the proposal visible on
the radar screen of capital planners in the legislature.

I want to emphasize two things about this possible acquisition:

1) It is still a long shot, although the hearing went very well.
2) We are trying to save a regional environmental asset, one which the DCR
has long recognized as valuable in its master planning for the Alewife
Reservation. We are NOT “trying to stop a 40B”. There is no way that the
state should or will get involved in trying to stop housing development. I
have long advocated the preservation of this property, even when the main
alternative was commercial development which would produce revenue for the
town of Belmont. Sometimes, we have to look beyond 10 or 20 year money
issues — both the housing markets and the town’s budget. As critical as
these issues are, we should be thinking in the true long term about what
kind of environment we want to live in. For me, that environment includes
local wild spaces that provide an oasis for wildlife and a place of peace
for people living in the dense surrounding areas.

The next steps are for us to work with the DCR to get them to formally
support the acquisition. That would add a great deal of credibility to the
long shot proposal that we have right now.

There are at least three news stories on the issue on the web already:

(a) BCH Reporter Cassie Norton’s story covered in Arlington, which will also
run in the Belmont Paper:
http://www.townonline.com/arlington/homepage/x1076808651
.
(b) The Globe’s story (poorly framed as an anti-40B story):
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/06/21/legislation_file…

(c) The State House News Service clip pasted below.

For the bill text, see:
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/185/ht00pdf/ht00021.pdf.
All best,

/w.

*From the State House News Service:*

LAWMAKERS URGE RARE PUBLIC-PRIVATE LAND PURCHASE
A contingent of Massachusetts residents is offering to join with the
Commonwealth to purchase a tract of privately-owned land and prevent it from
being developed. The land houses the Silver Maple Forest, dubbed at a
hearing today by Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) “a regional asset”
that abuts a nearby reservation and covers territory in Cambridge and
Belmont. Brownsberger entered the committee hearing room today with several
dozen supporters and said his constituents would be willing to have the land
appraised and pay any cost in excess of $6 million if the state agreed to
pay that amount. The land would then fall under the purview of the
Department of Conservation and Recreation and would be preserved as open
space. Sen. Steven Tolman (D-Boston) joined Brownsberger in calling the
forest “an area that clearly should be preserved.” “This is about doing the
right thing for our climate,” he said. The proposal is embodied in a bill, H
21, sponsored by Brownsberger, Tolman and Rep. James Marzilli (D-Arlington).

Published by Will Brownsberger

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