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February 15, 2005

Representative Jay Kaufman
House of Representatives

Dear Representative Kaufman,

I’d like to thank you for working to repeal of the fast-track auction law (Outside Section 548 of the FY04 budget). I’d also like to urge you to stand firm and oppose any attempt to reauthorize the auctions as part of the supplemental budget. When a significant number of affected people believe that a process is flawed and is doing permanent damage to their communities, the correct course of action is to implement a moratorium, not enact a hasty extension. A significant number of legislators seem to understand this, and hopefully the Governor will soon get the message as well.

As you may know, over 20 organizations have now signed a petition calling for the repeal of the fast-track law. The sentiment among these groups is that any proposal that involves auctions and fails to provide for community selection between reuse alternatives should be rejected. The concessions contained in recently circulated versions (Section 17) fail to address their core concerns. And they feel that the fast-track process is inherently incompatible with the community-based smart growth that we really need. These organizations deserve to be heard before any more auctions are conducted.

Thanks again for staying on top of this issue. It’s especially important to those of us living along the Waltham-Lexington border where some significant properties are involved.

– John Andrews

February 9, 2005

Senator Dianne Wilkerson
Joint Committee on State Administration
Room 34, State House, Boston, MA 02133

Dear Senator Wilkerson,

I am writing to bring a matter of state government agencies in conflict to your attention. The Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) and the Department of Environmental Protection are giving the municipalities of Waltham (and Lexington for that matter) two different messages. This concerns Lots 1 and 2 in Lexington and Waltham which are about to be declared surplus. They are part of the old Middlesex County Hospital site. These parcels have never been developed and are comprised mainly of forests, fields, and wetlands. This beautiful parcel lies in the source of the Chester Brook watershed.

You may have read that DEP is fining Waltham $30,000 for not completing renovations in a timely manner to its sewer system. Waltham suffers from severe flooding in its Chester Brook, West Chester Brook, and Beaver Brook watersheds.

Development on Lots 1 & 2 would ultimately cause more downstream flooding in Waltham. The recent DEP fines reference sewer overflows in Waltham. Approximately half of these sewer overflows occur in areas where there is flooding. One can argue that these extreme flooding conditions have contributed to the sewer overflows.

Ironically, we have one state agency (DEP) fining us for sewer overflows, while we have another state agency (DCAM) wanting to develop pristine undeveloped land that will contribute to flooding conditions, and hence make sewer overflows worse. It doesn’t make sense.

Walthamís watershed analysis (performed by Rizzo Associates) recommends that a way to decrease flooding in its Linden Street and other areas is to increase the storm water retention in the Chester Brook watershed. We should be increasing wetlands on Lots 1 & 2, not developing them. Yet Outside Section 548 allows this land to be auctioned by DCAM with no meaningful local input.

The governor just released some initial funding for the Beaver Brook watershed improvements. How smart is it to spend money on that, when development of Lots 1 & 2 will cause additional storm water to flow into the Beaver Brook?

In addition to this Waltham/Lexington/Belmont will have more than 1500 new housing units on the Trapelo Road corridor ‚ at McLean, MetState (Avalon), Middlesex (JPI), Indian Ridge (40B). Waltham has been more than accepting of development in its city. But Waltham is drowning in both water and other fluids.

The City of Waltham needs relief that only the state can provide in reconciling these two agencies. Hopefully both of these state agencies will see the wisdom in conserving Lot 1 & 2 as a watershed and bring relief to both Waltham and Lexington.

Thank you,

Susan Gitelle Baron

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