Status of local issues in the Alewife area

The following is a summary of a meeting that occurred at the State House
(September 25) regarding the status of Department of Conservation and
Recreation issues in the Alewife area.  There is a lot going on and I’m
grateful to Commissioner Sullivan for his continuing attention to a wide
range of concerns.

The Silver Maple Forest issue was not a central topic in the meeting,
although we touched on it briefly — that issue has beeen directed up at the
level of the Governor’s office.  Another issue which was not on the table in
the meeting is traffic improvements at the Rt.2/Rt.16 intersection.  I
continue to follow up on both of those issues and will report separately on

Present (for all or part of the meeting):
From DCR:
Commissioner Rick Sullivan
Samantha Overton (Urban Parks)
Dan Driscoll (Planning)
Bill Gode (Flood Control)
Mike Galvin (Engineering)
Rosemary Power (Government Relations)
Legislators and others
Senator Pat Jehlen
Senator Steven Tolman
Representative Will Brownsberger
Representative Sean Garballey
Representative Denise Provost
Selectman Clarissa Rowe
Ken Donnelly
Cindy Friedman (Senator Marzilli)
Robert Fitzpatrick (Senator Jehlen)
Mike Rademacher (Arlington Town Engineer)

Alewife Reservation Master Plan Status
The plan is partially implemented in the area of the ADL Parking Lot, but
waiting for Cambridge CSO work in the area across Little River from the
lot.   The Uplands acquisition was vetoed by the Governor and in the absence
of the vetoed funds DCR does not feel it has the financial ability to
acquire the property.  Legislators and local officials continue to look for
ways to save both the Silver Maple Forest and the Mugar property.
Implementation of the plan in the area towards Little Pond will occur as a
later phase.

Regarding the proposed bikepath segment in the Sunny-side area, DCR is
planning to organize conversations with Arlington officials this fall to
resolve differences about the location of the bike path.

Amelia Earhart Dam
DCR feels that the 08 and 09 budget earmarks for study of the dam suffice to
move an appropriate study forward to address (a) the feasibility and cost of
installing a fourth pump; (b) the feasibility and advisability of changing
pumping protocols at the Amelia Earhart to control flooding.  DCR expects to
have an RFP out on this next month and will send it to legislators for
review before issuing it.

Mystic Lakes Dam
DCR is well along in designing a repair and reconstruction of the Mystic
Lakes Dam.  This project is necessary for safety reasons — the dam is
weak.  It will also create a fish ladder and allow active management of the
upper lake for flood storage purposes.  They hope to put out an ENF before
the end of the year.  One inevitable negative to the reconstruction will be
the removal of trees on the dam.  The trees on the dam are all volunteers
and their roots create faults in the dam which diminish its strength.  It is
expected that construction will start in Fall 2009 and take approximately
two years.

Dredging and Debris Removal in the Little River and Alewife
The ongoing concern about maintaining a free flowing channel is very well
recognized both by the stormwater group (Robert Lowell) and by the Urban
Parks group (Samantha Overton).  Currently, they are testing the materials
in the channel bottom to identify possible hazardous materials (including
sharps from the homeless population) and to define the process to be used in
debris clearance and/or dredging.  They do not feel that they can order
large crews of people to work standing in the channel, even for branch
removal, before assessing risks.  They expect to make findings over the next
few weeks and to define a course of action from there.

Blair Pond sedimentation project (dredging and control structure)
They are currently doing depth mapping to design their approach to dredging
the pond. lt may or may not be possible to simply move materials within the
pond as opposed to trucking materials off site.  This will afffect
permitting issues and the timeline.  No deadlines were set, but the work
appears to be moving forward.

McCrehan Pool
It was agreed that DCR would review the possibility of allocating staff
resources to participate in visioning conversation about the pool — to
inventory short term to do’s as well as longer term possible goals.

Bikepath Right of Way Issues
The transfers and easements to create the right of way for the Belmont to
Alewife bike path are all approved by the grantors.  The actual
documentation received has to be approved by both EoEEA and DCAM.  The
General Counsel of DCR is attending to the movement of the documents through
these approvals.

Published by Will Brownsberger

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