Thursday, April 27, 2006

Boston Conservation Commission meeting April 19, 2006

On April 19 the Charles River Conservancy applied to the Boston ConCom for permission to do yet more work on our public riverfront parkland.

By the time I got to the meeting Richard Corsi (DCR)and Evan Moss (CRC) were finishing their presentation. I have the plans and plant list.

The project is to do things with "native plants" and "pervious surfaces" at the Eliot Bridge right where the CRC's "volunteers" previously cut down so many trees and shrubs for the Head of the Charles.

During public comment I distributed the letter (also posted) and photos about the DCR's unsupervised "vegetation management" on the Charles in March of this year, contrary to the Commission's previous order.

Summarizing the letter, I told the Commission that DCR and CRC representatives speaking to the ConCom had previously misrepresented CRC and DCR responsibility for illegal clearing in the past (October, 2003), that the unsupervised clearing was continuing, that the DCR and CRC were turning the riverfront into an office park for Harvard rather than protecting it as a public resource.

The ConCom voted to allow the project. One member admonished the DCR and CRC to supervise the "volunteers" and said I should monitor the project and tell the ConCom of any further violations. He then asked if I had anything to say. I replied that any ConCom remedy would come too late, after the damage.

The ConCom member said he was certain there would be remedies--did I remember the cherry trees? The Boston ConCom certainly did go after the DCR to get the donated Japanese cherries removed from the Esplanade, I know.

However, when dealing with outright vandalism, it's hard to remedy the destruction. The urban wild at Herter West still lacks the nice screen of plants that insulated it from the noise and sight of cars and commercial buildings on Soldiers Field Road. (This was among the things CRC Board of Advisors member and funder of the CRC project illegally cut down with his chain saw in 2003.) Can't paste the trunks and branches back on the trees and shrubs once they're gone.

And this unsupervised "vegetation management" is the third time the CRC has been involved in illegal doings on the river. The ConCom has previously taken steps to stop the damage, and the DCR and CRC have repeatedly violated the Commission's orders.

1.) In late February, 2002, my husband and I came upon CRC Board of Advisors member Lawrence Coolidge who was cutting down trees and other plants within one hundred feet of the river without an Order of Conditions from the Boston ConCom for the work. The Commission determined the DCR (then MDC) knew of Coolidge's illegal work, and in October, 2002 got a restraining order against the MDC to prevent further such vandalism.

2.) In September, 2003, Mr. Coolidge (still on the CRC Board of Advisors) was nevertheless at it again, this time paying for a major DCR project. He and other CRC volunteers again cut down and cleared trees and other plants illegally, as mentioned above. Having determined the clearing was beyond anything permitted, the BostonConCom informed the DCR Commissioner in January, 2005 that ". . . no vegetation maintenance activities by volunteers, including cutting and pruning, shall occur on any property owned or managed by the DCR along the Charles River in Boston without direct supervision by DCR or Charles River Conservancy staff" (letter, BostonConCom to DCR Commissioner, January 13, 2005, p. 2).

3.) Nevertheless, in March, 2006, an unsupervised CRC "volunteer" was cutting plants illegally on the Boston side of the river downriver from the Northeastern boathouse as described in my letter to the Boston ConCom. This time the ConCom took no action against the CRC apart from warning it to be sure to supervise the "volunteers" and the one member's asking me to monitor the CRC project just approved.

After the meeting the CRC "volunteer" coordinator asked why I hate him. He said once again he'd like to work with me (having said the same when I confronted him about his so-called supervision of the "volunteers" last fall when they indiscriminately cut down beautiful fall wildflowers behind the Publick Theatre. After denying any ["native"!] goldenrod had been cut down, he admitted having told his people they could clear cut). I tried to explain I don't hate him, I dislike the organizations he works for and with, and that he should get out of such unsavory company.