Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cruelty to Canadas

Bob reports:

The following was received from Cheri:

Cheri Ezell of Maple Farm Sanctuary sent a photo and comments:

Every year we have Canadian geese come to our hay fields and on bad days I feed them corn (a no-no by MSPCA). Two of this years geese have these yellow tubes on their necks that appear extremely uncomfortable. I took a couple of pictures and could send one if you need to see the style/number. Is there something about these poor geese that someone has the burning need to track these creatures?

My Response:

First of all, since we started this effort we have accumulated very strong lack of respect for the MSPCA.

We do not consider them pro-animal, we consider them pro-animal control and definitely not good guys. Feed away.

Marylin Comments:

Last winter at the goose meadow there was a Canada goose with a downward-facing cone-shaped collar--uncomfortable and awkward. Two others were banded on their legs. One was lame on the banded leg and I wondered if it was lamed in the banding.


Here's my first attempt at attaching a .jpg file in my new email account! The number on the goose collar is 69MM and the collar itself appears to be rather uncomfortable.


Maple Wood Farms' website is and Cheri comments it needs updating.

Comments to Friends of the White Geese at or, or to Cheri at would be appreciated. I would hope that all comments are for publication.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Comment and Response: Harvard/Friends Plans for the Charles "an Improvement?," other transit alternatives for Harvard's Allston Campus: Ron, Len, Ern

A number of comments off the Association for Public Transportation (APT) list:

1. Ron.
A. Comments.
B. Bob Responds.
2. Len.
3. Ernie.
B. Bob Response.
4. Len.

1. Ron.

A. Comments:

In general this sounds like a welcome improvement to the urban
landscape. However, it's not clear what if any effect it would have
on public transportation, which is what this list is about. In any
event, we're talking about plan that can only be executed over many

B. Bob Responds.

Old bureacratic slogan (loudly said all the time in Cambridge):

It's too early, it's too early, it's too early. Golly gee, it's too late. Why did you not keep me from doing these terrible things?

This proposal in the core part of the Harvard Allston Campus CANNOT work without the railroad bridge under the BU Bridge being converted to an off ramp from the Mass. Pike.

The infrastructure for that off ramp is being done now in the Cambridgeport Roads project, in the destruction at Magazine Beach, in the heartless starvation attacks on the Charles River White Geese, in the destruction of more than 449 to 660 trees from Magazine Beach to the Longfellow Bridge, and in other initiatives known and unknown.

When these various projects are done, the truly reprehensible environmental work will have been completed and moving the off ramps will be a relatively minor "improvement."

2. Len.

Harvard has been doing better at working with neighbors, and providing money for mitigations that help the neighbors. Have a way to go to get to MIT's level of contribution.

They need to be dealt with firmly, carefully, and honorably. They are skilled negotiators and politicians.

3. Ernie.

A. If Harvard has $1.2 billion to spend on transportation let them fund a Red Line spur from the Harvard station to Allston. Anyway they'll never part with that kind of money.

APT could provide input to Harvard on what Public Transit makes sense for their plans.

Perhaps dedicated light rail alongside the sunken Storrow Drive from the BU Bridge to Eliot Bridge and beyond to their Watertown campus. Perhaps make it a fork of the Green "B" Line. Get Harvard to help fund the capital costs.

Or bring a Blue Line extension out under Storrow Drive, with a pedestrian tunnel to Kenmore station, or also fork it at Kenmore and convert the Riverside Line to Blue Line cars.

Ernie's suggestion to extend the Red Line from Harvard Square to Allston, seems to benefit Harvard far more and the rest of us far less then the two thoughts I just presented. And river crossings are more expensive.

Harvard is the kind of miser that would make Scrooge and Silas Marner look like

B. Bob Response.

Now I think you have come up with an excellent idea as a toss-out.

I really dislike all these games about the Grand Junction and I consider it destructive to make the banks of the Charles River over in whatever the consultant of the week calls the "in" style of environmental construction.

BUT talking about using the B line, the Commonwealth Avenue green line, for access to Harvard's Allston Campus could be exactly the way to go.

Comm. Ave. is above the Mass. Pike at the BU Bridge, quite a bit above. And Comm. Ave. is so wide at that point that it is wasteful.

Why not drop a B-Line extension below Comm. Ave. off a switch from the current B-line and follow the Mass. Pike in some manner?

Harvard's Allston Campus is the Mass. Pike. The Mass. Pike to the B branch would seem to be perfect.

It is not at all far by that route and does not require all these bizarre maneuvers that pretty much all the Harvard calculations seem to require.

4. Len.

$1.2 billion, the figure quoted earlier, is about 5% of Harvard's endowment. If Harvard wanted to fund it, it could be done in well under a decade, with most of that time being involved in public meetings and permitting.

Harvard is more likely to leverage public funding for these infrastructure improvements, sweetening the pie only enough to get what it decides is best for Harvard.

They are very wise. for their purposes, to want to increase river and highway crossings, and minimize the barriers that the river and river roads are. To unify their campus as much as possible.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Details of Harvard/Friends Proposal for Charles River/rail yards, etc.

Bob Reports:

The following is my analysis of the proposals in the “City minus Traffic” front organization proposal for the Charles River, realizing that this entity is using some high powered talent and claims to be based on the Bible of the environmentally reprehensible Charles River Conservancy which in turn is funded by a bunch of developers including Harvard University.

The analysis is taken from

The proposal runs from Watertown to the Goose Habitat on the north and from the WBZ area to the Mass. Ave. bridge on the south.

1. New “Housing” at Birmingham Parkway/Elliot Bridge/Memorial Drive in the vicinity of the Buckingham, Brown and Nichols prep school. At the end of Memorial Drive is the back side of Mt. Auburn Hospital. As is normal in the Boston Area, the most important difference between Memorial Drive and Birmingham Parkway is the name. They are the same road but Birmingham Parkway is an undeveloped, natural area.

Housing locations proposed are:

A. Across from BBN in or near what is now the ramps from the Elliot Bridge to Memorial Drive.

B. South and east of BBN on either side / on top of Birmingham Parkway. Looks quite massive.


Suggestion for housing mix:

30% low income
25% moderate income family.
25% graduate student housing.
20% market rate.


The following breakout is provided of size (I am uncertain if this includes the prior grouping):


150 townhouses - 2, 3, or 4 bedroom 2-story townhouses, stacked as pairs - townhouse buildings are 4 stories high.

14 apartment buildings, containing 500 one or two bedroom units - apartment buildings are 5 or 6 stories high; each floor with typically 5 or 6 units.


A massive destruction of a currently wild area and it just keeps going. They do not show how far it goes. It could go to Arsenal Street (extension in Watertown of Western Avenue), much of which, in turn, is now owned by Harvard.

2. New Bridges crossing Charles:

A. Extension of Longfellow Park. Longfellow Park is located in Cambridge between Brattle Street and Mt. Auburn St. It is essentially perpendicular to the Charles Ri ver and is separated from Memorial Drive only by a narrow strip of MDC land, although the narrowest part is slightly to the west. The Charles River parklands at this point are downright tiny.

B. Connection of JFK School to new campus north of Harvard Stadium, this would extend and connect to Elliot Bridge through new campus. The JFK School connection would be at the northwest corner and would extend through the 20 year old JFK park. At the point of connection to the river, it is not particularly far from the Longfellow Park extension / bridge.

C. Connection of Birmingham Parkway south / west of BBN to SFR east/north of Publik Theatre. This would create a mall to an extension of the William Smith Playground. My memory of this latter area is that it is the only natural area between Publik and the Elliot Bridge. It is near WBZ which is a lot more familar to most people than this end of the William Smith Playground, and I am not at all positive that the playground currently extends to Soldiers Field Road.

3. Harvard gets new buildings on MDC land between Elliot and Anderson Bridges on condition they consent to sharing some use with the public.

A. Peabody Museum moved to this new campus. Located in a direct line to Longfellow Park over new foot bridge.

B. New Harvard library with a Starbucks proposed opposite Elliot Bridge.

C. New Harvard Buildings to be placed between stadium buildings and Soldiers Field Road, apparently on at least part of SFR.

D. Two new Harvard buildings would be ON TOP of a tunneled North Harvard Street (extension of the Anderson / Harvard Bridge).

E. North Harvard Street would be buried to just south of Harvard Stadium, making this entire area Harvard campus. Similarly, Western Avenue and Cambridge Street would be buried to unify the Allston holdings.

4. River / Western / Cambridge Street Area

A. Buried to allow direct connection of portions of Harvard Campus. Western Avenue would be buried from WGBH to Western Avenue in Cambridge.

B. A new tunnel proposed under existing Western Avenue Bridge. All of this would connect in with a new park which is part of an upzoning in Cambridge’s Riverside neighborhood passed in 2003 for the benefit of Harvard.

C. The Cambridge Street tunnel would start at the beginning of the freight yard area and run to Guest Quarters Hotel in an area which is now Mass. Pike off ramps. This area currently includes the Mass. Pike off ramps.

D. More housing construction is proposed between Cambridge Street and the Mass. Pike from North Harvard Street to the beginning of the freight yard area. It could go “on the side of a hill that could be built over the Massachusetts Turnpike.”


This housing might have at least 350 units, though it could support a much higher density. Suggested housing mix (same as at the first housing site):

30% low income
25% moderate income family.
25% graduate student housing.
20% market rate.

Harvard would undoubtedly build additional student housing elsewhere on this hill.


E. The Mass. Pike and railroad yards would be covered with a “strong and high” roof to make it part of the Harvard campus. The railroad yards and ramps are owned by Harvard, as is the above housing area.

F. A new “Harvard hill” in this area would be created to hold the new Harvard campus. It, at its highest appears to be about five to six stories (50 to 60 feet) higher than the current ground level at the Charles River.

G. The elevated Mass. Pike would be buried.

H. Harvard now owns the Gemzyne building between Cambridge Street and Western Avenue.

I. Memorial Drive would be buried from Riverside Press Park and westward.

J. Four artificial puddles are proposed between Gemzyne and the Charles River.

K. Storrow Drive and Soldiers’ Field Road would be buried from the Charles Smith Playground / Publik Theatre area to a location just east of Massachusetts Avenue / the Harvard Bridge in Back Bay.

L. Harvard’s private property extends to about 500 feet west of the BU Bridge, stated in one location, 300 feet stated in another location..

5. Goose habitat / Grand Junction Railroad Bridge.

Map clearly shows

A. a new road through the woods to the east of the tracks / destroyed nesting area which would extend up the hill to Memorial Drive,

B. and another road to the railroad tracks as an extension of the one illegally constructed by BU in 1999.

These roadways would connect to a road on the western, presently unused half of the Grand Junction railroad bridge. On the Boston side it would be connected to the area covering Soldiers’ Field Road.

The exact description of this area must be taken with a very major grain of salt since the Cambridge Street plans would be impossible without moving the Mass. Pike exit to this bridge. That would entail the MBTA’s widening with three travel lanes and the move of the railroad track to the western, currently used track.

Harvard/friends on the go with a massive Charles River Roads proposal

I received a rather impressive Email from a group which calls itself CITYwithoutTRAFFIC on a proposed burying of Soldiers Field Road by the Harvard Business School. It apparently came to me from the Allston Brighton open space list.

I asked to use the report on this blog and on the APT list. My request was declined.

I then realized that they had their own website.

Good grief what a professional website! And the maps. Wow!

They are proposing burying all the roads everywhere.

I think the key is the following introductory language from the website (



Replace long stretches of the Charles River parkways (Storrow Drive, Memorial Drive, Soldiers Field Road, and Fresh Pond Parkway) with a deep-bore tunnel running in a straight line under the river banks.

Why speculate about this now?

In November (2003), Harvard University formally initiated an extraordinary planning effort called the Allston Initiative. It is a plan to build several new campuses on some 200 acres that Harvard has acquired in Allston and Brighton over many years. (Harvard President Summers' speech about this initiative is available on the Harvard site.)

The Allston Initiative would be very different if the parkways dividing Harvard University from the Charles River were removed. The benefit for Harvard of having no traffic between its old and new campuses is clear, but other neighborhoods, communities, and institutions would also be affected. Public review of Harvard's planned expansion into Allston will eventually occur, but a broader civic disucssion should begin now. The communities that will be most affected should be looking beyond the Allston Initiative to their own visions for the future of the Charles River banks.

Harvard has sought community suggestions for the Allston Initiative.

This website provides several such offerings. If the suggestions to be found here manage to elicit other ideas that emerge for discussion in public forums, this website will have fulfilled its main purpose.


Could you be more complimentary to Harvard? And note where the tunnel is going: "in a straight line under the riverbanks."

The Harvard link is:, dated October 21, 2003.

Going through the links from the website, this thing has had massive work done on it, massive.

The fine print calls it a spinoff from the Bible of the Charles River Conservancy. The CRC in turn receives massive funding from the Development Community including Harvard.

The CRC is strikingly consistent in its fight for destruction of nature on the Charles River all the time piously patting itself on the back.

I am still working on the package.

I would strongly appreciate input with the understanding that I can pass on the input as I see fit.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

DCR Funding in Light of the Charles River, Magazine Beach, the puddle

The following discussion ran late November, early December 2005:

L writes

my dad told me stories of swimming at magazine beach.


And right after the last ceremonial swim, the DCR/MDC
destroyed the wetlands and put up a wall of designer bushes
preventing further swimming.


Yes, true, and the Charles River has been cleaned up considerably
recently. Not that public health officials are now advocating
swimming in our section of the Charles, but it is probably
sanctioned up river outside the city.


The Charles is swimmable right now (but not in this season,
obviously) near the Charles River dam at the Museum of
Science. This news was folded into a Globe editorial this
past summer.

Swimming in the Charles at Magazine Beach isn't safe because
the sediment there, from long-gone tanneries and other
industries upstream, is toxic. A clean-up or technical fix
may not be possible, or if it is, possible within a reasonable

There is swimming at Magazine Beach, of course, in the DCR
pool. Like skating rinks and other assets, it has suffered
from the MDC-DCR's neglect. The front-page article in today's
Globe addresses the most glaring example of this problem, the
Longfellow Bridge. Ordinary maintenance suffers while fancy
projects like the Memorial Drive "Historic Restoration" ($7.5
million) get funded.

The Magazine Beach pool is also subject to MDC-DCR budget
hold-ups, e.g., "we can't open this summer/we have to close it
in August because we don't get enough money to operate it."
Communities have to mobilize to get their legislators to give
the agency more money for such specific purposes. However, at
one public hearing I attended, a legislator complained that
the MDC-DCR diverts even earmarked money to what it pleases.

At Magazine Beach it pleases the DCR to close the pool and
build up demand for swimming in the river, even if that means
some experimental and costly fix. It doesn't please the DCR
to keep the pool open, to keep condoms out of the kiddie pool,the trash picked up, and the snow plowed.

One thing environmental science has done is to alert us to the
problems of swimming in water with heavy metal sediment. The
designer plants and "swimming lagoon" now at Magazine Beach,
part of Cambridge's $1.5 million contribution to this vision
of swimming in the river, will do nothing to make these
problems go away.

And if the idea's to swim in the river rather than a pool,
it's already perfectly safe and much, much less expensive to
swim in the Charles farther downriver, by the Museum of
Science. The Globe reported the water temperature in June (or
July?) was perfect.



but if we are to be encouraged to want to swim in the charles,
why put the "designer" bushes, etc. by the shore, thus
preventing humans and/or other animals from access?


Marilyn, 12/1/05:


We read that the MDC-DCR is terribly underfunded, its assets fallen into disrepair.

Before you sign on to lobby for the DCR, though, read this on swimming in the river at Magazine Beach (from the agency's website, to see how it would like to spend your money:

"Phase out the aging swimming pool complex and explore the feasibility of an outdoor swimming lagoon and spray fountain. . . . Anticipate the need to reconfigure the shoreline, dredge the sediments, and create barrier islands to separate the swimming area from the navigable channel. If water quality and visibility cannot be sufficiently improved the swimming lagoon should be physically separated from the channel and have its own water circulation and filtration system. The entire complex including support structures should be fully integrated with and subservient to the landscape. Accommodate additional parking off site. The lagoon should support ice skating during the coldest months." (Master Plan for the Charles River, Magazine Beach, at Closing the pool in August sounds like phasing it out to me.)

I wouldn't give an agency with planners like this a nickel. Public pools and skating rinks are "phased out" while the river's dredged and reshaped for a lagoon with filtration system and sediment curtain?

I've heard a legislator complain the DCR diverts even earmarked funds to projects it wants, rather spend them on those for which they're earmarked. So you may think you've lobbied to get the DCR money to repair that "aging swimming pool"--but the DCR has other plans for those funds.

The DCR does have Cambridge and the Charles River Conservancy to help fund Magazine Beach, though. If these worthies think it's a worthwhile expenditure--and they've been on the river with Alpenhorns to publicize the charm of it--we may get swimming in the river at Magazine Beach whether anyone with a particle of sense wants it or not.

Looking at the "lagoon" now in place at MB, I see two pipes (filtration system?), courtesy of Cambridge.



In short, my question is, even assuming the attraction of swimming in the Charles AT MAGAZINE BEACH (and not elsewhere on the river), how much of anyone's money is it worth to indulge this desire? And what are the opportunity costs, i.e., alternative uses of the money?




The lagoon Marilyn refers to an artificial puddle which has been created in a location approximately 20 to 30 feet from the Charles River.

Now that they have a puddle, they need a bridge to go over it. So they put in a bridge.

To create this bizarre thing, the DCR/MDC and Cambridge destroyed five healthy trees.

In the destroyed wetlands, the DCR/MDC and Cambridge have replace a tar path with a composition path, which connects to this silly bridge at a right angle.

The construction so incompetent that the connection between the composite path and the silly bridge is such that the bridge is an inch or so higher than the path. And you have to go over that silly bridge to use the composite path.

The usual bragging about bike paths exists.

Last Saturday, I tried to use the composite path/bridge by bike.

I noticed that one inch difference and tried to make the turn.

This "bike-friendly" entity did a great job of putting me in urgent care.

My right arm is in a sling with possible bone damage at the elbow and an inability to raise the lower arm higher than a right angle at the elbow.

Business as usual with the DCR/MDC and Cambridge.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

DCR/MDC denies taking away their food “harms” the Charles River White Geese.


After several years of inhuman treatment of the Charles River White Geese indirectly and directly, Thursday night, the key “planner” for the DCR/MDC went before a neighborhood group in Cambridgeport to present their “plans” for Magazine Beach.

One of the most telling published reports on the reprehensible situation on the Charles River was a photo printed by the Boston Sunday Globe in September 2004, featuring

1. The very hungry Charles River White Geese barred from their 25 year feeding ground at Magazine Beach.

2. Kind people feeding them.

3. A monstrous earthmoving machine in the background in the process of destroying their feeding grounds at Magazine Beach.

4. A wall barring the Charles River White Geese from their feeding ground.

Next to the photo, this DCR/MDC representative was quoted saying he had no intention to harm the Charles River White Geese.

Thursday night, he expanded on his definition of “harm.” In his secret definition of “harm,” starving them is not harming them.

The lies got thicker.

Since September 2004, the Charles River White Geese have been walled off from their habitat of 25 years by Cambridge and the MDC/DCR.

The walls have been massive and indisputable, both in the eastern and western end of the habitat.

All you have to do is look at those walls and understand their impact on access from the river.

There is nothing complicated. There is nothing confusing.

This reprehensible hypocrite had the nerve to say he and his fellows in Cambridge are not denying the Charles River White Geese their food.



Since Cambridge, the MDC/DCR and their friends started their heartless attacks on the Charles River White Geese, the level of variety in the falsehoods they have put out has been striking.

The falsehoods have varied from

1. Outright lies to

2. Undisclosed “redefinitions” of key terms such that use of those redefined terms without the undisclosed secret meanings can only honestly be called lying.

3. Loud proclamations of environmental sanctity on matters which have nothing to do with the areas where only they control.

4. A claim of a search for some sort of superanimal which does not defecate.

5. Lovely promises of a great new world on the Charles River which are belied by their true record.

6. Loud claims of environmental sanctity based on some sort of overall plan

a. While shouting down opponents to their destructiveness who have the nerve to place particular examples of destruction in the context of their overall destruction.

b. While failing to communicate the fact that the “planners” have such contempt for the natural environment that they are unfit for their positions, let alone for planning in environmentally sensitive areas.

7. Creation of fake cheerleading groups which are dominated by environmentally destructive entities and which run around praising environmental destruction as environmental sainthood.

8. Refusal to discuss the context of any particular change with regard to the overall plan.

And I could go on and on.

This unending pattern of lies has been the biggest problem in standing up to these reprehensible entities.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Loss of a Good Little Newspaper, the Cambridge Day - or is it

I sent the below report a few days ago. This morning I received an email from Roy saying the entire thing was a spoof on his part.

Trouble is the Cambridge Chronicle reported the death of the Cambridge Day in the Chronicle's December 1 edition.

I just sent an email to the Cambridge Day asking them if they are dead.

I will take a failure to respond as a yes.


Roy Bercaw informs me based on an AP report that Cambridge's daily newspaper, the Cambridge Day, folded.

That is a shame. They had interesting news, a good events list and fair handling of letters to the editor.

I guess it was fairly predictable, unfortunately. They were a free paper, and it was very hard to find the places where they were available.