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Silver Maple Forest Forum Results from Group Hearings
April 25, 2013
added to website May 5, 2013

1) Presence on the Reservation- Ellen Mass
2) Legislative planning- Amy Mertl
3) Protest Actions- Quinton Zondervan

1) Presence on the Reservation- Ellen Mass
Ellen Mass
Dave Morimoto
Walter Kittredge
Anisha Nakagawa
Doug Reville
Rue ?

Ellen said her group was a "Presence" group. However many topics were discussed, but much was explained as well. FAR has put the Reservation on the map and many people are enjoying it now. Ellen Talked about the Placards which are well used and designed and implemented by Lesley Seniors in Amy Mertl's classroom. These and The Virtual Tour are and will be instrumental in bringing habitat and Wildlife value to the area.

Lesley student said that there seemed little hope for preserving the forest based on earlier information. Ellen encouraged letter writing with Rindge and Latin with Anisha's Environmental Club. As a result, a trip is now planned with High School Club. Poetry walk coming up, and Earth Day had over 60 students from 4 universities. (After the Forum).

Walter questioned the will of people in this matter, and Doug questioned the ability of grass roots also to preserve the forest. Ellen was upset that folks were not more optimistic, especially after the information of the 8 speakers.

Sharing in the other group sessions, Ellen found out that fund-raising seemed to be on most people's mind. Ellen was asked if May 21st was a Good protest day for her, as they were trying to get a group together from Quinton's group, whose topic was vigil and protest.

Ellen tried to explain that the CPA funding was specificially for places Such as ours and that CPA was sought 2 times by Quinton, but she felt We did a very poor job of following up, and that much more must be done in partnership with Belmont and Cambridge, as we got the head of the Belmont Selectmen to come to Cambridge and ask for assistance, and little was done after that. Spy Pond did not have a billionaire developer with partner Prudential Assoc. as property owner. While going door to door works well in small safety areas of prosperous suburbs and close knit communities, the amount to raise exceeds grossly our capacity, although a full time, well run campaign would work.

To date, there is too much to raise to protect the Coalition to Preserve Belmont Uplands, a group of home owners and environmentalists in the area and FAR who are keeping a court case going, and which might be the main reason trees remain.

To begin a fund-raising approach with Amy and Quinton's group, I propose having Chuck Katuska talk to us about land owners options, which are the best in the country, if properly applied. At least it starts us off with GOOD leverage with Mr. O'Neill, or to our municipal leaders to note we are trying to compensate him and to do our best. This should be a Monday or Wednesday night soon.

2) Legislative planning- Amy Mertl
People Present:

Will Brownberger (briefly)
Anne-Marie Lambert
Karen Grossman
Dan Epstein
Lucia Lovison
Minka Vanbeuzekom
Mike Nakagawa


Asked Will about legislative state of affairs, his suggestions for pursuing legislative action or targeting elected officials. His take is that avenues has already been exhausted at the state level, governor Patrick vetoed both his bills because he is highly focused on affordable housing and the parks department is more interested in preserving land in Western MA (where they can get more for the $). We discussed instead working through Cambridge/Belmont to stall development until funds can be found to buy the property and O'Neill can be convinced to sell.

Options discussed around this plan:

Convince DEP to re-evaluate validity of engineering on wetland/flood abatement:
Lucia and Mike both seemed convinced there could be flaws in the developers plans from an engineering standpoint, particularly the issues of the need for constant draining of the water at the foundation. If they are correct, could be possible to convince the DEP to re-evaluate the permits.

Follow up: Anne Marie will share 200-page engineering document with Lucia, she will review and see if feasible to create counter-engineering argument, will work from there.

Convince Belmont/Cambridge to use CPA funds to help buy land:
Community preservation act gives Belmont/Cambridge some funding to buy open spaces. 10% must go to each of three categories each year (open land, affordable housing, historical preservation) so maximum 80% can go to open space. For Belmont this means max of $800,000, for Cambridge max of $8,000,000. Would be an uphill battle to convince either city to put 80% towards one place (Cambridge has never spent more than 10% on open space according to Minka). Would need very strong show of public support especially from residents of Cambridge and Belmont. Even if we could convince them, still not enough money so would need to fundraise the rest (see below), also issue of how to convince O'Neill to sell given potential long-term profits for him likely exceed land value.

Follow up: Minka willing to help if we want to pursue CPA funds in Cambridge, can contact her for time tables, contacts, guidance etc.

Fundraising to augment CPA funds:
Discussed how we could go about fundraising to buy land on its own/augment CPA funds. Possibly a "kickstarter" like campaign, can look into websites that offer this for non-profits. Karen mentioned example of a group in Arlington who raised funds to by island in spy pond for conservation. They wrote letters and went door to door to homes surrounding pond, convinced residents of value, raised enough funds to convince owner to sell. Different situation as land was much cheaper ( < 1,000,000) with less profit potential so owner was easier to convince to sell. But technique of contacting residents/businesses near property in Belmont/Cambridge still could be good, make them aware of the role of forest in flood mitigation for example. Might get lucky and find a few big donors, could also help drum up community support needed to support CPA campaign (see above). Still extremely large amount of $ needed, and difficult to convince O'Neill to sell.

Follow up: Investigate potential kickstarter-like website for non-profits (Amy has a list). Consider whether this type of fundraising campaign could really be successful. Ellen is doubtful.

3) Protest Actions- Quinton Zondervan
Quinton's Group: Protests and Vigils


Karen Grossman
John Pitkin
Nancy Wells
Rozann Kraus
Jennifer Griffith
Mike Connolly
Mark Jaquith
Sam Seidel



There was some discussion about fundraising and how to go about that? Quinton suggested one was to start collecting pledges. This would not conflict with fundraising for the legal case since pledges do not get called in until an actual purchasing opportunity arises. At the least the number of pledges and total amount pledged could be made public to help seed future fundraising and raise public awareness and show commitment to purchasing the land. We would not expect to raise sufficient funds from private donors to purchase the land, so the pledges would help to convince public officials to commit public funds towards a purchase, including CPA and other available funding mechanisms. By putting our money where are mouths are, we could help jumpstart the process. Careful planning, organizing and coordinating is required to make this effort a success and to avoid unnecessary conflicts with other ongoing fundraising efforts, including the legal battle.


There was discussion about regular vigils near the forest, and near route 2 to help raise awareness. Green Cambridge in coordination with FAR can help with printing signs and flyers and organizing people to attend vigils. Regularly scheduled vigils would be best so that people can fit them into their schedules. Vigils should start as soon as possible to raise awareness and help educate people on the issue.


There was broad agreement to organize protests. The group wants to protest before Memorial Day; The date of Tuesday, May 21st, was chosen as a potentially good date to hold the first protest. Discussion ensued about where to protest and what to protest exactly. Suggestions include: Belmont Town Hall, Cambridge City Hall, Massachusetts State House, and O'Neil's offices in Massachusetts if we can find them. It was also suggested that we could hold simultaneous protests at all these locations with enough people.

Green Cambridge in coordination with FAR can help with printing signs and flyers and organizing people to attend these protests. Signs would include specific actions we want our officials to take, including dedication of public funds towards a purchase, denial of building permits, etc.


Additional ideas for raising awareness that were discussed include:

  1. Going to neighborhood groups, and university student groups, and making a presentation about the forest.
  2. Inviting Bill McKibben to speak on this issue (unlikely but can't hurt to try).
  3. Handing out flyers at the office buildings, and path from Alewife to the Reservation explaining the issue.
  4. Organizing a bicyclist protest, via a bike ride around the reservation with people carrying signs – Sam Seidel would like to work on this.
  5. Mark the trees (on the reservation) with messages about preservation (Quinton explained this has been done before during solstice events).
  6. Organizing another Benefit concert.
  7. Publicizing the issue via NPR? TV?
  8. Making public art with the silver maple leaves.
  9. Organizing political theatre (plays) to publicize the issue.