Bullfinch ENF comments
for use and submitting by FAR
Stewart Sanders, August 19, 2004
There are positive features to the proposal. Their implications are shown below.
Aquatic life will get improved water. By ending parking on the DCR land adjacent to the east end of the project, most or all runoff pollution will end there. By removing the impervious surface, more floodwater will be retained and rain and snow will more gradually recharge Little River. This advantage continues with the removal of Bldg. 20A and Cambridge zoning for green space between Little River and Acorn Park Dr.
There are negative features to the proposal, and here are some of their impacts.
Wetland dependent species will also benefit from these changes.
People will see increased passive recreation opportunities open with this work.
Aquatic life receives at least four doses of untreated sewage a year from Cambridge Combined Sewers. The development adds to the amount of sewage entering the system, which contains sewer overflows to Alewife Brook. As if the Bullfinch project were not enough, their ENF goes on to include discussion of sewage from currently undeveloped properties they do not own!
The ENF overlooks some important problems, most of which have their origin in the major filling and altering that was done to make this area of the Fresh Pond Marsh available for development and transportation.
Water dependent species lose when developers use engineered devices to collect storm water. We see more frequently the site go under about a foot of water. People have survived in wet areas by placing structures above the flood level, allowing life to continue underneath. With the construction of Bldg. 100, habitat will be permanently lost.
The stream outlet from the northeast corner of Little Pond was blocked off at Acorn Park Dr.; truckloads of fill were brought in and placed on the DCR land; Little River was widened, its clay banks left exposed, and dredged material deposited along the banks destroying the integrity of the wetlands.
To address these problems, the proponent, public agencies, and voluntary associations need to research several phenomena.
Little River water contains so much urban runoff that MyRWA says it is not worth removing the relatively small additional pollution coming from the combined sewer overflows.
Little River is filling with silt and has now reached the point where it occasionally
lacks minimum depth necessary for River Herring heading for the Alewife area spawning ponds; people canoeing to Little Pond or the Mystic River are presented with the interesting situation of needing rainfall, which provides depth for a short period, but avoiding the waters when the rainfall causes the sewers to overflow!
One wetland related species requires open space bordered by birch and alder, and the proponent needs to remove the trees in the DCR property that has been used for parking and replace them with some around its border.
How is the wetland between Acorn Park and Rte. 2 functioning for flood storage?
What was the role of the pipe that once connected it with the Mugar wetland in Arlington?
How has the wetland changed and is its succession to phragmites causing loss of habitat and flood storage capacity?
Which plan would work here, the Concord Great Meadows plan as described by Peter Alden, or the dredging program prepared by Jason Cortell for Arthur D. Little Co.?
What stream restoration method will help Little River's herring run? Can some of it begin with Bullfinch's phase one, especially near bldg. 100?
How can this be undertaken responsibly if Bullfinch is allowed a waiver?