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Waltham: Flooding danger eyed in land sale
Daily News Tribune Wednesday, November 30, 2004
By Maria Krajnak

WALTHAM — The pending sale of 55 acres of state land near the Waltham and Lexington border could hurt the city, according to one city councilor.

If the land is developed, not only could it cause more traffic and overdevelopment to that area, Councilor George A. Darcy III said, but it could cause more flooding to the Chester Brook watershed areas.

Flooding along Chester Brook, beginning near Trapelo Road, along Lexington Street, to Lyman Pond, to Linden Street and underground to the Charles River, has been a major problem in Waltham for the past several years, Darcy said.

“Every couple years, Linden Street is flooded with 4 to 5 feet deep water,” Darcy said. “Annual flooding along the Chester Brook is a major problem in Waltham, damaging homes and business and negatively affecting the value of residential homes and the economic viability of local businesses alike.”

Last week, Darcy’s resolution to acquire six acres of the public state land behind Bow Street was unanimously approved by the council. The land primarily containing wetlands and woods would be used to help with flood control. By keeping the six acres untouched, it would continue to act like a sponge and absorb stormwater, which would “aid all the thousands of property owners and businesses within the Chester Brook Watershed,” Darcy said.

Yesterday, Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy sent a letter to the state Division of Capital Asset Management requesting a two-week extension for responding to the state’s land auction. There is no guarantee the city will be granted the six acres as in years past when cities and towns had a right of first refusal. Now, communities are put on the same tier as private developers when it comes to the state auctioning off its public land. It’s awarded to the highest bidder.

Darcy said it is in the city’s and public’s best interest to preserve and enhance the stormwater retention capability in the Bow Street area, which is next to Bow Street Pond and Our Lady’s Church.

“There are several substantial development proposals at the source of the Chester Brook in Lexington which will no doubt increase downstream flooding in Waltham in the coming years,” Darcy said.

Howard and Joan Garniss, of Stanley Road, said they began having severe flooding problems when Bishop’s Forest, a condominium development off Lexington Street, was built. The Garnisses have lived in their home for 30 years.

“The whole city is a wetland in a way,” Joan said last night in a telephone interview. “We’re paying for all the construction.”

Joan added she supports the city with its flood control efforts but cautioned city officials about being able to afford maintaining and policing the new wetland areas.

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