Tuesday, July 02, 2013

More Details on the “Protection” Provided by the State in the Longfellow Bridge Destruction, Charles River, Cambridge, MA, USA.

1. Introduction.
2. Mishka email.
3. State reply.
4. Mishka’s Analysis.
5. Editor, public announcement.
6. Contacts, Miscellaneous.

1. Introduction.

We have done a lot on the environmental outrage which is part of the Longfellow Bridge project.

The following exchange of emails and Mishka’s analysis are pretty self explanatory.

2. Mishka email.

Sent Friday, June 28, 2013, 1:44 pm


To: Boundy, Stephanie (DOT)
Subject: more on Trees near Longfellow Bridge

Dear Stephanie,

I looked more into the situation with trees near Longfellow Bridge.

With regard to the trees scheduled for removal after July 4, I believe that the project should hold a public hearing under Chapter 87 Section 3, both for legal reasons and for better public relations.

The legal side is that Chapter 87 Section 3, in particular, requires to hold a meeting such that a notice of such a meeting among other things is placed "upon the tree at least seven days before such hearing". I don't believe any notices of the possibly relevant meetings were posted on the affected trees yet, so I think there is a strong chance that the project is not yet in compliance with the law in this sense.

The public relations aspect of this is more involved.

On one hand people do notice and appreciate your efforts to protect a number of trees in the area.
So this is a positive side, and that's very good.

On the other hand, there is significant public discontent because of the two factors. One, people who attended a number of those meetings say that the subject of the trees was not raised at all. So they are ready to challenge the project's assertion that "the tree protection and removal plan has been presented at numerous public meetings and hearings during the previous phase of the project".
I am sure that the paperwork was filed, but whether this translated to a discussion available to the public and open to the public input specifically on the trees is another matter. That's why the law requires a separate meeting, with the notice posted on the affected trees.
This is specifically to avoid the situation, when there is an appearance of a discussion, but not enough chance for the actually meaningful discussion.

The second factor complicating the public relation aspect of this is the removal of the pines on June 19, 2013 just north of the MBTA's Kendall station portal.
It is true that the required meetings on that removal did take place, so from the legal viewpoint everything was done correctly in that case. But looking back at that event, the removal does not look reasonable. The officially stated reason is that "the trees must be removed to allow the contractor to install jersey barriers across the median to shift traffic traveling to Boston (on the upstream side of the bridge) to the downstream side". What is difficult to understand is why the jersey barriers location could not have been moved 20 meters to the west (north) from the portal along the Main Street. Moving it just 20 meters would seem to make no difference for the traffic, but would have preserved the trees. If there were deep reasons preventing this solution, those reasons were not comminucated well.

This second factor makes people want to scrutinize the asserion that "every effort has been made to minimize the number of impacted trees through careful design". This assertion might be correct, but people currently believe this was not the case for June 19 tree removal, and they would like to have a chance to scrutinize whether this assertion (of minimal impact) is correct in this case.

So, to summarize the public relation aspect, I believe that without a Chapter 87 Section 3 hearing which should be held somewhere in Cambridge before the actual tree removal, and should be advertized by, among other things, posting notices on the affected trees themselves at least seven days beforesuch hearings, the chance of negative publicity and bad press is quite high at this point.

In conclusion I'd like to say that I appreciate your efforts at tree protection, and please let me know, if a Chapter 87 Section 3 hearing would be scheduled in this case.

3. State reply.

July 2, 2013, 4:29 pm

I am following up on your inquiry regarding the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project. I have confirmed with MassDOT and DCR Counsel that public shade trees along DCR boulevards are not subject to M.G.L. c. 87 since they do not fall under the definition of "public shade trees", thus not requiring the oversight of the local tree warden or a local public hearing prior to removal.

As indicated in my prior email, the tree protection and removal plan has been presented at numerous public meetings and hearings during the previous phase of the project, including general public information meetings and hearings for the Environmental Assessment, Environmental Notification Form and Notices of Intent. MassDOT has also coordinated extensively with the Department of Conservation and Recreation in preparing the plan and understands the value residents and visitors place on trees. Every effort has been made to minimize the number of impacted trees through careful design. A landscape architect and a certified arborist are part of the project team.

If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to reach out to MassDOT.



4. Mishka’s Analysis.

July 2, 2013, 4:45 pm

Subject: These people pretend that these are not "public shade trees"

This is their standard trick, to claim that trees which from a layman viewpoint seem to obviously fall under the definition of public shade trees somehow are not public shade trees.

If one just reads the law, they seem to be quite in the wrong.

5. Editor, public announcement.

I previously gave a link to the announcement, at long last, of the first “public hearing” on this destruction in Cambridge where all the destruction is taking place.

Their public announcement is posted at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/InformationCenter/WeeklyNewsletters/RoadtoReformNewsletter06282013.aspx.

With all the lovely words about “public” announcements of destruction, there is exactly ZERO statement of destruction of trees in this announcement.

6. Contacts, Miscellaneous.

Massachusetts Governor’s Office email form: http://www.mass.gov/governor/constituentservices/contact/.

State environmental people, DES Hotline: ESF.Hotline@state.ma.us.

MassDOT Accelerated Bridges Program: 857-368-8904 or Stephanie.Boundy@state.ma.us

All Massachusetts Legislators’ emails: http://charlesriverwhitegeeseblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/emails-for-all-massachusetts.html.

Cambridge, MA, USA city councilors: Council@cambridgema.gov.


For people listening to Boston Sierra Club endorsements of environmentally destructive members of the Cambridge City Council, you should be aware that

(1) using the world’s definition of “environmentalism,” there are no environmentally responsible members of the Cambridge City Council, and

(2) there are Cambridge Machine activists very visible and apparently very active in the Boston Sierra Club.

If you are talking to a person associated with the Boston Sierra Club, do a credibility check. Ask if they are familiar with the “Urban Ring” rapid transit proposal. This is a subway proposal designed to link the existing subway spokes. I have been working on it since 1985. Cambridge raised the project in a comment to an environmental Impact Statement in the last month or so.

If the Boston Sierra Club “expert” answers “yes,” that he / she is familiar with the Urban Ring rapid transit proposal, ask how many rail options there are. If the answer is “one,” you are getting the flat out lie put out by the City of Cambridge.

Cambridge’s flat out lie is that, of the TWO rail options, the only one that exists is the environmentally destructive streetcar option which the City of Cambridge supports. This option would be highly destructive to the environment near the Destroyed Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese.

The reality is that THE STATE LEGISLATURE HAS SUBSIDIZED THE OTHER OPTION, the responsible Orange Line / heavy rail option, the Kenmore crossing. The state legislature has subsidized the expansion of Yawkey Station as part of the massive Fenway Park area project which has gotten recent press.

Cambridge’s nonsensical proposal would move Yawkey Station three blocks. The Cambridge proposal would not work without moving Yawkey Station. The Kenmore Crossing uses the now subsidized and being expanded Yawkey Station as part of a brilliant megastation.

You should immediately respond to such nonsense from a Sierra Club “expert” by having nothing more to do with this person. Whether the person is stupid or venal is irrelevant, the person has no credibility and is not worthy of your time.

It is frequently difficult to pin these irresponsible people down in general. The deviant behavior in my test is extreme. They are pious in their demands that, if you are politically correct and pro environment, you have to rubber stamp them. Please do not waste your time arguing about destruction they can wiggle around.

Turn your back on them and walk away fast.