Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Destruction resumes on the Charles River West of the BU Bridge

Marilyn Wellons follows up on Bob La Tremouille's early morning report:

Bob La Tremouille posted this alert early Wednesday morning. As soon as I could, I went to Magazine Beach to find out what was up.

Fortunately, for the moment, there's no major construction at Magazine Beach now. According to the MWRA workers I talked to, the extensive stack of items at Magazine Beach is a large quantity of pontoons, leftovers from the Head of the Charles regatta, now removed from the river.

If not today, major construction is nevertheless coming, if the City of Cambridge has its way. Phase 2 of the joint Cambridge-DCR project here--replacing 7 acres of ball fields and wildlife habitat there with 7 acres of commercial sod (zero wildlife value but lots of chemicals)--will go out to bid in November.

Cambridge City Councillors, the Conservation Commission, and State Senator Galluccio insist on going ahead with this project. They seem to believe, or want voters to believe, that they're giving Cambridge children more playing fields. In fact the project adds ZERO to the number of playing fields, ZERO to the city's inventory of open space, and $1.5 million of city funds to the DCR and its contractors.

This project also gives us more toxic algae blooms in the river. The blooms in 2006 and 2007 followed the installation of 6 acres of commercial sod downriver, at the Ebersol ball fields in Boston near MGH. Runoff from the chemicals applied there fed the algae and will continue to do so. Now Cambridge is paying $1.5 million to repeat the blunder and add more chemicals to the river from these 7 acres for bigger and better blooms.

We've paid $60 million so far to clean up the river, but that will be down the drain, so to speak, when Cambridge and the DCR are done.

What a deal.

Bob's alarm this morning was certainly reasonable.

One morning in October, 1999, the DCR's agent (Boston University) began destroying the goose meadow, where the White Geese nest, before the ConCom even met to consider the DCR's request for permission to do it. And BU's contractors cleared and poisoned much more than they ultimately told the ConCom they planned to. When dealing with the White Geese, the DCR has, to put it delicately, not been bothered by laws.

Three years ago, in September, 2004, the City of Cambridge and the DCR suddenly put up 3 lines of barriers between the water and the fields at Magazine Beach. Suddenly, the White Geese, who had been feeding there for more than 20 years, couldn't. They couldn't get ashore--and this at a time of year when they would ordinarily have been feeding from before sunup to after sundown on the grass, to prepare for winter.

The geese were frantic. We, their friends, tried to feed them as best we could, but it has been very hard to keep them from starving in the three years since that September. Until that time I had no idea how merely supplementary any food the White Geese got from their human friends was. That is, the geese--vegetarians--had survived for more than 20 years on the Charles on the grass and other riverfront plants. It is their primary food. Three years later, the geese still cannot get to their primary feeding grounds safely.

The DCR and Cambridge are very clear they don't want the White Geese on the river. So it's fair to say that preventing the geese from feeding at Magazine Beach is a deliberate policy. (Our Freedom of Information search of DCR documents in 2000 revealed the agency's written policy against the White Geese.)

So by noon today we knew that construction hadn't started yet. However, since the Cambridge City Council, the ConCom, and Senator Galluccio insist on proceeding with this project despite knowing about the algae blooms of 2006 and 2007, we are alert for the start of construction at any time.

Marilyn Wellons


Bob's report, early Wednesday morning, October 31, 2007:

There is a tradition in Cambridge, MA.

The really vile behavior is commonly saved until just after the election.

This morning early symptoms were at Magazine Beach and across the Charles River on the Boston side.

On Magazine Beach were seen 14 to 15 combinations of 15 packages each of nearly rectangular hollow black plastic objects. These objects were identical to each other, one to two feet in flat dimensions, a bit less than a foot high.

The last time this sort of this showed up at Magazine Beach, the vile City of Cambridge and Department of Conservation and Recreation created three walls in the Charles River blocking access between the river and Magazine Beach with the obvious starvation impacts.

On the south side of the river was a work crew with police protection. The plastic walls were in place pretty much walling off the south shore from the river in an area starting from about the BU Bridge and ending across from the outfield at Magazine Beach.

We have bureaucrats and pols with contempt for the environment.

The last time this happened at Magazine Beach, wetlands, native protective vegetation and animal habitat were destroyed to put in bizarre bushes which kept dying and which were unfit for the Charles River. Deliberate starvation was targeted at the Charles River White Geese. The leadership of the DCR explained four years of promises not to harm them by saying that they did not consider starving them harming them.

On the south side, the DCR would appear to be going public with its contempt for native, protective vegetation and animal habitat. Previously, they hid behind the Charles River Conservancy.

Reprehensible, business as usual in the City of Cambridge and with their state bureaucrats and pols.