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Draft Environmental Impact Report - Belmont Office/R&D Building
Response from Martha Moore, Town Meeting Member, Belmont, Massachusetts

331 Waverley Street
Belmont, MA 02478
May 8, 2003

RE: Belmont Office/R&D Building, EOEA #12376R

Ellen Roy Hertzfelder
EOEA Attn. MEPA Office
251 Causeway Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA. 02114

Dear sirs:

Some concerns on the O'Neill Properties development are as follows (case 12376R).

The project does not address the EIR requirement that the plans enhance pedestrian transit and thereby enhance access to public transportation. The project is very close to the Alewife T station, but separated by natural open space. Presently there is no easy way through the Alewife Reservation to the proposed office building, though there could be. Can you require the developer to approach the reservation authorities to consider the creation of a walkway connecting the development to the nearby T and to buses nearby as well? Hundreds of automobile trips might be averted if there were a proper walkway between the property and the T station.

Instead of alleviating traffic by encouraging public transportation, the project entails a great influx of automobiles and provides a large amount of parking. The City of Cambridge recently confined developers in a nearby development to less than half of the parking that O'Neill has requested. The Route 2/Alewife location is choked with traffic, and every effort should be made to encourage workers in the office part to use public transportation.

Wildlife protection may not be within the scope of the MEPA process. However you should be aware that the use of this site for office development is not the highest and best use of the land. This was determined by the Alewife Study Group appointed by the Belmont Selectmen. The Uplands site, as the name indicates, is higher in elevation than the surrounding area, and differs in the character of its wildlife and plant material from other nearby open spaces. It has a different animal population and different trees and shrubs. The loss of diversity, documented by the Friends of Alewife’s study, that this project would create will damage the natural ecology of the entire greater Alewife area. The land abutting the Alewife reservation would best be used as natural open space, an addition to the reservation. Building one more office park in a metropolitan area where the market is glutted with such buildings, and such developments are going begging in the current economy, is foolish indeed, and a loss to Massachusetts citizens. Anticipated tax revenue, should there by any, cannot compensate for the resulting degradation of our urban environment.

In addition, It does not appear to me that the proponent has met the requirement to minimize impacts of pollution and storm runoff to the maximum feasible extent. The proposal before you compromises the wetlands by intruding into wetlands proper. The mitigation offered for the taking of wetlands may be acceptable. However, 25 % of the project, including the building envelope and parking areas, is located within the wetlands buffer. The plan does not compensate for the compromise to the buffer. The nearby wetlands will be less protected from storm runoff and pollution than they should be. Trash and blowing debris from the parking areas, typical of lots in high density use, may well be a somewhat less severe source of pollution. If built, the project should be scaled back out of the buffer zone entirely.
Thank you for your attention.

Yours truly,

Martha Moore Town Meeting Member Belmont, Massachusetts