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Draft Environmental Impact Report - Belmont Office/R&D Building
Response from Response from Ralph Chang

Ralph Chang
10-1 Arizona Terr.
May 7, 2003

EOEA #12376R
Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder
EOEA, Attn: MEPA Office

Secretary Herzfelder and the MEPA Office,

Here are my comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Belmont Office/R&D Building project. While the 7.8 acre Conservation Restriction mitigates the damage to the natural environment and to the enjoyment of and observation of the wooded wild-land fauna and flora, I object to the massive size of the building and the total occupation of land in the quantity of at least 220,000 square feet. This figure includes 2 buildings, the outdoor parking, and detention basin. Since up to 7.8 acres could be developed under the proposal, this means that up to 340,000 square feet could be removed from its natural state, although the 220,000 figure is what appears to be used in the architectural drawing.

There is currently a glut of commercial office/R&D space in the Boston area, enough to last for at least several years. The town of Belmont and Cambridge would distinguish themselves more by maintaining and improving this wild land and wet land and by continuing to offer nearby residents of Massachusetts the unique scenic beauty and ecological niche of this forest of silver and red maples, American elms, cottonwoods, and ferns. The provision of almost 800 parking spaces with a projected number of automobile trips of about 2000 per day implies a massive amount of extra car exhaust and traffic for a building that is not really needed in this state for commercial or R&D purposes. It would be a crime to bulldoze the habitat of and to kill the woodchucks, cottontail rabbits, and other burrowing animals that currently make their homes in the ground. It would be a crime to cut down the big silver maples and other trees, shrub, and ferns that currently grace this woodland. As with all forests, this forest produces oxygen and combats global warming. It provides nesting or touch-down areas for American robins, catbirds, American crows and goldfinches, woodpeckers, and great blue herons. The trees are also homes for raccoons and gray squirrels.

The Boston area within 5 miles of its center is saturated with office space, laboratories, and R&D buildings in universities and companies. It is not saturated with opportunities for children and citizens to rest in nature and to observe and learn from nature's laboratory of trees, ferns, blue jays, woodpeckers, and woodchucks, and even a fox, now and then. Within 2 miles of where I live in Arlington, there is the Fresh, Little, and Spy Pond, and the Little River and the Mystic River. But around the Mystic River, for the most part, there are only narrow strips of wooded land. There are grassy areas, but the strips of woods are often only 15 feet wide. Among the 3 ponds above, the wild land around the Little Pond, which includes the Alewife Reservation, the wetlands around Little Pond, and the Belmont Uplands-the latter being the land that is now threatened with being clear cut and bulldozed-offers the largest contiguous area of wooded and wet land that I can get to readily by bicycle. It is a gem of forest in the northwest end of the Boston area with water below that should be preserved in as much of its entirety as possible for all citizens of Massachusetts living nearby.
If O'Neill must make some money from the land, they and the neighborhood would be better off building a small residential building on it that has affordable housing. If they charged admission for hiking on it and recreating/observing in it, I would rather do that than see 220,000 square feet of it be clear cut and bulldozed. Therefore, I request that you, the Secretary of theExecutive Office of Environmental Affairs, turn down the proposal for the 245,000 square feet of Belmont office/R&D building and the proposed parking space.

Sincerely Yours,

Ralph Chang