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MDC Master Plan Unveiled November 20, 2002
Ellen Mass, Friends of Alewife Reservation, Nov. 29, 2002
The city of Cambridge, MDC, Mass Water Resources Authority, Bioengineering and Carol Johnson firms must be commended by Cambridge, Belmont and Arlington for an intriguing and far reaching MDC master plan to create a 130 plus acres of a publicly accessible wildlife refuge and environmental learning center, and connecting bike and pedestrian pathways. (The Reservation is on a major Boston area-wide public transportation artery.) The plan coincides with a MWRA, City, Bioengineering and Montgomery Watson Harza stormwater detention area for northwest Cambridge's separated stormwater from sewage, which will help clean the waterways,a projected ninety five percent of Alewife Brook-Little River (subwatershed of Mystic River watershed).The plan extends into Somerville, Medford and Arlington.
All local Cambridge plans are predicated on supporters and elected officials such as Reps. Alice Wolf and Ann Paulsen, who might engender additional funding from the legislature, city and town budgets and local stakeholders in Northwest Cambridge and in the region. (Alewife Reservation is surrounded by 3 other municipalities).
This week's MDC public meeting was arranged by Senior MDC planner, Dan Driscoll in order to complete the second phase of the master plan design work. Interest, support, and some concern was forcefully voiced from around 200 attendees and their representatives about the huge plan that runs from Little Pond in Belmont to the confluence of the Mystic River in Medford. While most expressed strong support, some showed concern with paths and a bridge in East Arlington where there is fear of crime.
The next phase of detail which needs funding will show intricate designs, from newly wetland pools and streams to mitigate flooding, to a sheltered teaching pavilion. In the Cambridge and Belmont area, we will have conservation-designed walking paths (boardwalks for preventing visitor wandering and for wildlife protection), thus eliminating the large number of minipaths which presently lead to homesteads that disperse natural populations. Two huge wetland conservation and habitat rich areas will be created both at the former MDC owned A.D. Little parking lot and in the center of the Reservation where present sumac trees and phragmite fields have filled in the dying and drying marshes along Little River, once rich with wood and black duck, pheasant, mammals and many more bird breeding areas. With stormwater cleaned discharges similar to water quality of the Charles (we are told), the more whetted Reservation of natural plantings designed by the City, lends great likelihood of the former species and biodiversitiy returning. Flooding impact from the wetland detention areas will significantly diminish within the pervious, water controlled basins. Proper access will include historical and educational markers and a pavilion for teachers and blinds for protecting wildlife from human intrusion.
If Belmont Little Pond neighbors desire, the plans include much help for the ailing, much silted and chemically damaged Little Pond with public access for Little Pond neighbors and conservationists. There is a fine natural log Island planned for the Pond as well.
Recent plans are found at www.bioengineering.com and you can call MDC at 617 727- 1300. Or look here on www.friendsofalewifereservation.org