Large development in East Arlington near Alewife draws public opposition, fans fears of flooding

May 21 meeting (photo by Coalition to Save the Mugar Wetlands)

May 21 meeting (photo by Coalition to Save the Mugar Wetlands)

Some 300 members of the public, including many from Cambridge and Belmont, attended a “Community Presentation and Feedback” session held on May 21 by Oaktree Development regarding their proposal to develop a site in east Arlington bordering Rte. 2 owned by the Mugar family (across Rte. 2 from the “Belmont Uplands”). Continue reading

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Climate Change Vulnerability Study to be Presented 3/17 (New Date)

100-year storm projected flooding in 2070

100-year storm projected flooding in 2070

The Fresh Pond/Alewife area has always been vulnerable to flooding, even without the looming threat of rising sea levels and increased precipitation predicted with climate change. As our area comes under intense development pressure, the FPRA is concerned with how to design new buildings and retrofit established neighborhoods to withstand periodic flooding and how to protect sensitive areas like Fresh Pond Reservoir (the city’s water supply) and the Alewife Reservation (a protected wetland habitat) from increased, polluted stormwater runoff. For over two years the city has been preparing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment that will inform new planning and building regulations as well as emergency response measures. The interim results will be presented on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 pm (NEW DATE) at MIT in the Stata Canter’s Kirsch Auditorium.. And, if you think a warming climate will mean fewer massive snowfalls like this, read this article on research by an MIT climate scientist.

Please use comments section to add your questions to the ones below: Continue reading

Recent Press Coverage of FPRA Concerns

Fawcett St after a heavy rain last summer

Fawcett St after a heavy rain last summer

This week Boston.com continued its coverage of the development boom around the Alewife area, this time focusing on the potential risks of building in the floodplain in advance of the long-awaited findings of the city’s Climate Change Vulnerability Study (to be presented on February 12 at 6 pm at MIT Tang E51).

Read the most recent Boston.com full story.*

Also this week the Cambridge Chronicle ran a guest editorial by FPRA President Jan Devereux on the debate over hiring a city ombudsman as a resource to help level the playing field for residents to evaluate and respond to large development proposals. There is now a policy order on the City Council agenda on Monday, January 26, to reconsider this idea.

Watch this video first, then read the Chronicle editorial here.

* The first story in the Alewife series is here.

Boston Globe Covers Alewife Development “Boom” (More to the Story)

389 units were constructed  on Fawcett St

389 units were constructed on Fawcett St

On Monday The Boston Globe ran a story on the Alewife development “boom” that highlighted the success of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance in lobbying for more holistic and inclusive growth planning. The article sparked a robust online discussion, attracting over 110 comments and driving traffic (the good kind!) to the Globe’s website. Given the space constraints of a daily newspaper, this week’s 993-word story could only scratch the surface of a complex set of transit, infrastructure, environmental, and housing policy challenges. Globe editors, please take note: Development in Cambridge is clearly a topic of great interest to your readers, and the story merits continued and more in-depth coverage in 2015.

In the meantime, I’d like to like to use the luxury of the Internet’s boundless space to expand upon some of the thorny issues the article raised: Continue reading

Fresh Pond/Alewife Flood Planning & Action Summary

Questions about the impact of development on the Alewife flood plain and about how planning for climate change will necessitate new flood mitigation and storm water management measures prompted a group of FPRA members to research and write the following report. Thank you to Peggy Barnes Lenart, Arthur Strang, Jay Yesselman, Mike Nakagawa, Alison Field-Juma, and Alice Heller for taking the initiative to form a working group, and to Owen O’Riordan, Cambridge DPW Commissioner, and Kathy Watkins, Cambridge City Engineer, for meeting with the group and sharing their knowledge. 

We all know that the Fresh Pond/Alewife area (FP/A) has a naturally soggy history. We wanted to understand what we can do now so that the future—which will include a lot more people and assets—will avoid the worst effects of flooding. Below is a summary of what we learned through our own research and a presentation to us by Owen and Kathy. This is just a summary—ask us questions and we’ll seek to answer them! Continue reading