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City Climate Leader appeals to Cambridge City Manager
added to website April 2, 2012

City Manager

Dear Mr. Healy,

We are grateful to the city of Cambridge for following the ICLEI protocol for Climate Change Adaptation by initiating a vulnerability study and planning to develop a climate change adaptation plan based on the results of that study.

We are also grateful to the city for its careful observation of FEMA protocol to protect residents and businesses from flooding by requiring developments in flood prone areas to provide compensatory storage and by requiring, in some cases, additional storage, beyond the building's displacement, so as to actually reduce flooding through construction.

Nonetheless, we are concerned that some planned construction projects may exacerbate downstream flooding risk to Cambridge and surrounding communities. In particular, we are concerned about the potential flooding risk from proposed construction in Discovery Park, which is adjacent to the sensitive Alewife Reservation area, and is located in the heart of what was recently designated a 100 year Floodway by FEMA in 2010. In addition, we have concerns about the negative effects of these proposed construction projects on the surrounding wildlife habitats. Finally, we have serious concerns about the impact of these construction projects on water quality in the Little River, Alewife Brook and the Mystic River, given that in some cases these projects would replace natural areas with additional impervious surfaces such as parking lots and building rooftops, which cause increased pollutant concentration and run-off.

Given these concerns, and given the city's conscientious approach to adapting to potential impacts of climate change, we ask you to consider a temporary moratorium on new development in the FEMA floodway and other sensitive areas in the city, until the vulnerability study and adaptation plan have been completed. This would ensure that the findings of the study and the recommendations in the resulting adaptation plan can be fully considered before permitting additional destruction of dwindling permeable surfaces in the city.

We are also categorically opposed to any development taking place on the site known as the Belmont Uplands, as this area contains an important Silver Maple Forest habitat, and is surrounded by sensitive wetlands. We want this property to be purchased for preservation and we are actively working on bringing about this outcome with our partners in Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge, who are co-signatories to this letter. While the city of Cambridge has very little direct control over this proposed development, there is a possibility that the developer will once again request to connect the proposed building to the Cambridge sewer system. We respectfully request that any such request by the developer be denied and that we are notified if and when such a request is received by the city.

The Cambridge city council has voted numerous times to preserve the Silver Maple Forest and we trust you will help us bring about the will of the people of Cambridge to preserve this important wildlife refuge, recreational green space and important nature learning center. I look forward to continuing to work with your administration on this important issue. Thank you very much for your consideration in this matter.


Quinton Y. Zondervan
Green Cambridge

co-signers: Friends of Alewife Reservation, CCEAG, Coalition to Preserve Belmont Uplands, Sustainable Arlington

cc: City Council, Susan Rasmussen, Rich Rossi, Owen O'Riordan