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More Opposition to the Uplands Development
by Frank Larkin
Time to fight Uplands plans, Belmont Citizen-Herald, Letters to the editor, October 19, 2006

Much has been said about the flooding problem in the Winn Brook and Hills Crossing areas. In recent months, the topic has come up whenever the O'Neill Properties development proposal for the Belmont Uplands is mentioned. From what I can understand, the infiltration and inflow problems are being addressed. Perhaps not as quickly we would like, but nevertheless the problem has been identified and help is on the way, as the saying goes.

A second problem of at least equal importance is the impact of the combined sewer outflow (CSO) of the city of Cambridge. The combined sanitary and storm sewers flow into Alewife Brook and beyond. When the area experiences a heavy rainfall, the water flow becomes surcharged. If it happens to be a Nor'easter, then the water and waste backs up and Belmont's sewerage has no place to go. The water in Clay Pit Pond and Little Pond is a mere four inches above sea level. That is why the water and sewerage backs up into Alewife and Little River and thence into the homes in Winn Brook and Hill's Crossing.

The potential for further serious contamination and health hazards, not to mention the general quality of life of Belmont's residents, would be placed at significant risk if the development of 299 rental housing units is allowed on the Belmont Uplands. Belmont's town fathers must not allow that to happen. The negative impacts on the town and its residents are too lengthy to enumerate here.

I support the right of any property owner to develop his or her land. But if the proposed development has the potential to create serious health problems by increasing significantly a very long-standing dilemma, I do not support it. The plan should be rejected by the town of Belmont. Homeowners, taxpayers and residents deserve the right to quiet enjoyment of their property, free from flooding and sewer back-ups. The town must marshal its authority and stop this project now.

Let's get going. The hour is getting late. For example, right now there is a bill winding its way through the state Legislature, Senate Bill 1909, which was introduced by state Sen. Robert Havern, D-Arlington. The bill would require the state Transportation Office to conduct a comprehensive study of traffic, flood control, air quality and other problems in the Alewife area before any such project can be allowed. The leaders of this town, more specifically, the members of the Board of Selectmen, should be in contact with the speaker of the house and the majority leader pointing out why this bill is important for the health and safety of the citizens of Belmont, and also in other ways using the power of their office to get the Havern bill passed. After all, is anything more important in order to maintain life in Belmont as we have known it?

Francis Larkin
Staunton Road