Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR)        Join Email List     DONATE!
Get email when website is updated

it's private

More Order of Conditions in Behalf of Belmont Uplands Preservation
Stephanie Liu
January 7, 2007


Thank you for offering your perspective and clarifications. Unfortunately, I have to disagree. The letter I submitted on Monday was not comments, but facts that should be considered as supporting information for the order of conditions.

Frankly, I do not understand the purpose of your clarifications other than to discourage dissent for approval of the project. My letter did not claim that the neighborhood experienced flooding as a result of the proposed project; nor did I assert that the project would eliminate the existing sewage backup problem; or reduce my commute time. In fact, I stated very clearly in my letter that the existing problems are not the concern of the developers, but the Board. The Board has not been able to resolve the existing problems so it is a peculiar argument that you raise that adding 299 units will be a non-event (or have no impact) on the town. Your assumptions that the solutions offered by the engineers will work 100% is na´ve and extremely disturbing for someone charged with protecting the welfare of the residents of Belmont. It demonstrates a callous attitude for quality of life issues that make Belmont a desirable place to live.

Since I addressed my letter to the Belmont ZBA members, I would appreciate that you would deliver this letter to Mr. Chin and the remaining board members for their consideration as part of the process of developing the order of conditions should this project be approved.

Thank you.


Stephanie Liu

49 Oliver Road Phone: (617) 484-5838
Belmont, MA 02478-4620

January 7, 2007

Dear Belmont Zoning Board of Appeals Members:

I would like to present information supporting my opposition of the O'Neill Chapter 40B proposal ("O'Neill 40B") for the Belmont Uplands. The Town has experienced serious sewage and traffic problems for years, and although it is not the concern of O'Neill 40B with respect to the existing problems, it is the responsibility of the Board to assess current and potential future Town issues that may have negative impact on the community as a result of O'Neill 40B. Jay Szklut has indicated that the Town may have a solution for the current sewage problem. Unfortunately, the Town offered many sewage solutions recent years, but none have worked successfully to support the existing needs. This so-called solution should not be even discussed until it has been implemented and improvements are able to be demonstrated to the residents.

What follows are my specific concerns that address each of the band-aid solutions proposed in the O'Neill 40B application. Please consider these points carefully as they do discuss serious health and safety implications for our Town.

The Holding Tank: I would like to ask the Board, what does a 24-hour holding tank do even with one day of rain? It takes days to pump out flood/sewage water from our basements. Please refer to the pictures taken from the two small rainstorms in 2005/06 (attached and also provided to the Board in the last hearing); both pictures were taken more than 24 hours after the storms. I would also like to point out that, during the October 20-22 1996 storm, all of the grass areas in the pictures as well as our basements were covered with flood/sewage water. Total rainfall in Belmont for the 1996 storm event in was almost doubled compared with the May 2006 storm. Belmont was the first mentioned in all of the news for total rainfall during that event. O'Neill 40B also proposes that they would pump out the tank and deliver the content to other sites if the rain continues more than 24 hours. During the Mother's Day flood of 2006, as described by the O'Neill 40B consultants, most of the streets were closed. With the flooding history in the Uplands area, access roads will likely be the first to close. I question how the tank's contents would be delivered elsewhere without road access? Having several days of continuous rain is quite common in our area (please refer to National Weather Service public information at One also wonders how an already-overcharged Town sewer system could tolerate the force of releasing the holding tank after 24 hours of rain. O'Neill 40B will no doubt add significantly to the pre-existing flooding/sewage problems Belmont experiences.

Traffic Issue: I have been a resident of Belmont for 26 years. I commute to work and school between the Cambridge and Boston areas. I, as well as many other Belmont residents, have witnessed the dramatic increase in traffic since 1983, when the MBTA extended the Red Line to Alewife Station. Many commuters from Rt. 2 and Rt. 3 to Boston and Cambridge would avoid traffic in the Alewife area by going through Belmont. We now experience bumper-to- bumper traffic every day. For a small town, this is not acceptable. My less than 6 mile commute to work one way currently takes between 45 and 60 minutes. As you all know, this also creates a very serious safety problem in our area. Oliver Road has a no-left turn sign from the Lake Street entrance and a no-right turn sign from Brighton Street, but we constantly have motorists speeding from one end of Oliver Road to another during rush hour. My neighbors cannot let their kids play in their own front yards and studies show that there has been increasing asthma and other air pollution-related respiratory illnesses in these areas. The public health and safety issues are evident and the negative effect of adding 1,000 cars to the Alewife area is unthinkable.

The developer hired several consultants specializing in 40B applications, and, despite such a long application period, they have been unable to offer reasonable or credible solutions for the issues raised. This matter is of great concern to our community. I urge the Board make the right decision for our Town. It has a reputation as a quality place to live and raise one's family that is near Boston. The O'Neill 40B threatens that reputation by increasing embedded problems Belmont faces and yet it offers very little additional affordable housing and doesn't even succeed in raising Belmont's percentage of affordable housing which is the true spirit in which the O'Neill 40B regulations were meant to be enacted.

I appreciate your willingness to review my comments. Please vote down O'Neill 40B as it is bad for Belmont.

49 Oliver Rd, Oct 15 2005 49 Oliver Rd, May 14 2006