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

it's private
Vital Alewife Natural Resources Need Consideration
added to website June 13, 2011

Dear friends of the Alewife Reservation,
Please excuse this deluge of e-mails this last week. Here is another matter before us on the watershed which must be known, because we see construction is taking place with disregard for the community's natural resources devoid of respect for this rare urban wild that shelters over 20 species of mammals and 90 species of birds, and the assaults are coming from all directions.

We are asking for a meeting with DPW officials and for daily monitoring of the city and state (MWRA) construction. Please sign on or write to the Storm water manager, Catherine Woodbury at 617 349-4818

FAR has been an advocate in the past for this storm water basin and restored wetland project which we felt through our 9 member committee made up of scientists and naturalists in 2006 that it would benefit the urban wild and benefit the condition of Little River by recharging it, and would produce much habitat and provide a flooding retention area. At the time, the Mystic River Watershed Association also supported this project. Some community members felt it should not go forward and sought legal recourse.We are now in doubt, although a small and non-influential body.

However, someone must advocate for the deer and coyote and other mammals that are being blocked from their natural habitat. Here is a letter from Begabati and others related to this injustice for species that cannot speak for itself.

This wildlife corridor between Blair Pond urban wild and the rest of the Reservation, especially Little River and Blair Pond, has been in existence even before the railroad tracks were laid and we do not have a right to obstruct the corridor which is a severe impediment to foraging in the silver maple forest and reaching the river and streams of the Alewife Reservation. Deer sleep at Blair and forage across the tracks.

City website on construction:

If you'd like to attend a meeting or visit the area, please do and take photos and ask the city to comply with the letter's request to meet and have a person monitoring daily with daily logs throughout the project which will go on over several years.

Ellen Mass
Friends of Alewife Reservation
186 Alewife Brook Parkway #304 Cambridge, MA. 02138
617 290-4864
617 415-1884 office

From: Begabati Lennihan
Date: June 10, 2011 1:51:05 PM EDT
Subject: sample letter - email or call me 617 547 8500

Begabati Lennihan, rn, cch
The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine
777 Concord Ave., Suite 301
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-8500

June 9, 2011

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to share my concern about the construction (and destruction!) in the ?urban wilds along the Fitchburg Spur bike path between Alewife T and Blanchard Road, along the MBTA commuter rail.

As a dedicated conservationist, I do not own a car — I commute by bike between my home in East Arlington and my work in the Professional Building of Sancta Maria Hospital. This part of my commute — along the dirt bike path — has given me the greatest happiness and solace during my day, and restores my energy in a way that allows me to care for patients throughout my busy workday.

One of the highlights of my commute was seeing turtles laying their eggs along the chain link fence near the railroad track, then seeing tiny turtles the size of a quarter making their way back towards the wetlands. This whole area has been dug up and the nesting area destroyed.

Another highlight was once realizing that a coyote was loping along the railroad track parallel to the bike path — and that fortunately the chain link fence separated me from him! Suddenly the chain link fence ended and the coyote headed towards the wetlands without a glance towards me. It was a thrill to see this wild creature so close. The coyote would not have been able to head into the woods now — the fence blocks the way all along the railroad track. I even saw a rabbit yesterday unable to get past the fence — It was clear to me that the rabbit could have gotten between the railings or under the fence, but the rabbit could not see that. It kept coming up to the fence and turning away. If such a small creature cannot get past the fence, surely none of the larger ones can.

I once rejoiced in the overarching green of the trees, like a green cathedral overhead, and thrilled to see the everchanging profusion of wildflowers in such a great mass of blossoms that they brushed my legs as I rode by. As a holistic healer, I work with medicinal herbs, and I recognized many of the plants along the bike path as healing herbs. Now the trees and wildflowers have been bulldozed along half the path, replaced by a sanitized and urbanized version of nature with tidy nursery trees in a row surrounded by mulch. This will not provide the cover to support the biodiversity of this wonderful place, the herons and hawks, rabbits and chipmunks, turtles and frogs, and a multitude of plant species.

I would like to ask that the destruction along the rest of the path be minimized; that the plans be made public on the city website; and that any meetings concerning the bike path be posted for all the many users to see. I ride the path on a daily basis (not during construction hours, so as to avoid interfering with the workers) and will be in close touch with Ellen Mass of FAR to share my observations and concerns.


Begabati Lennihan, RN, CCH

-- Begabati Lennihan, RN, CCH
The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine
777 Concord Ave. Suite 301, Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547 8500
Easy online scheduling:
Check out my new book! A Healer In Every Home

photo of bike path, fence, and trees

Storm water management DRAFT letter

City of Cambridge
Department of Public Works
Storm Water Management Department
Owen O''Riordan, City Engineer
Catherine Woodbury, Storm Water Manager
RE: Alewife Storm Water Management Project

Dear City officials and directors of the Cambridge/MWRA/DCR Storm Water management plan

Finally crews are here to separate the sewer from the storm water and to restore much of the Alewife Reservation wetlands beginning in September to actually excavate for the Basin. The following individuals and groups are very concerned about the fragility and high value of this rare urban wild and wildlife refuge between Arlington, Cambridge and Belmont. The construction of a storm water wetlands in a highly Intrusive and damaging project which we understand in the long run will greatly benefit the Urban wild and wildlife habitat as FAR has published in its brochures with the collaboration of Bioengineering and the City of Cambridge. This storm water wetland brochure demonstrates the intentions of the City and MWRA and DCR to restore this over 10 acre area to functioning wetlands.

We are writing this letter to ask that the plans for the construction be placed on the city Website immediately. This 140 million dollar project from public funds must be available For the public to know what is happening, and for FAR to be able to know the time line, construction plans, limitations and cautions in this wildlife area. There are none like it in the Boston area when you place Blair Pond, its urban wild of 10 acres, the urban wild on the north side of the river and the Mugar Properties across the highway which is part of the urban wild environment.

We are also writing to request again a meeting with the essential planners of the project as we have been promised for several years including the following: Bioengineering, DPW, DCR, DOT, MWRA personnel who will reiterate their commitment to do as gentle a footprint as is required within the scope of the storm water management plans.

Since the city has issued the permit for the construction of the project and the contractors have been hired, we are speaking for the broader Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge community in this one matter (and there may be others) that there be an independent 3rd party present as a 'clerk-of-the-the-works during construction, or are you planning to have construction inspectors done by your own in-house engineering staff?

We must insure that the project is built according to the approved design. We know that corners will be cut if there is no on-site construction monitoring. We are hoping that you will have the 3rd party present which we will be introduced to and can ask questions to.

We would expect that a city engineer would be on site every day to monitor construction an that that individual would generate DAILY construction progress reports with all appropriate testing and photographic documentation, and that our organization be allowed some opportunity to receive and review these daily reports on a daily basis.

  1. Give us a meeting date as soon as possible before the basin construction begins.
  2. Place the plans and parameters of the Cambridge Park Dr. utility construction now going in on the city DPW website.
  3. Place the broader storm water basin plans on the website.

Signatures from individuals and groups