I received an e-mail from Friends of the Fells today alerting me that the comment period on the DCR’s plans to modify the historic parkways of the Fells has been extended until Tuesday, April 9. If you share our concerns, please send your comments to email@example.com. Comments should include the project reference number: 15027.
Here is the text of the e-mail from Friends of the Fells.
Fells Development Alert UPDATE!
Two Week Extension for Comments on DCR Changes to Fells Historic Parkways
The Friends of the Fells has learned that the Department of Conservation and Recreation has requested a two week extension of the public comment deadline on its plans to modify Fells historic parkways later this year in the vicinity of the Langwood Commons redevelopment project.
The new deadline for public comments is Tuesday, April 9th.
This parkway modification plan is the subject of litigation commenced in 2009 in Superior Court. The case was sent back to the Superior Court in 2011 after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the appeal filed by a group of citizens, the Friends of Fells, and the City of Medford properly stated a claim that the collaboration between DCR and the Langwood Commons developers may be an improper plan to segment the work so the developers could avoid environmental (MEPA) review for their redevelopment project.
DCR is now attempting to circumvent the pending litigation by starting the parkway changes before the Court rules on whether a more comprehensive MEPA environmental review is required for the redevelopment project.
The plaintiffs in the litigation have filed a motion asking the Court to issue an injunction to prevent DCR from proceeding with the plan until the legal appeal is decided.
In its ENF filing DCR now acknowledges the connection between its planned Fells parkway work and additional traffic expected from the development project, but then asks the state to waive all its prior decisions which required a full public review of all potential development related impacts.
DCR parkway alteration plans include:
• removal of seventeen Fells Reservation trees
• adding traffic signals in two locations
• removing the entire length of one of the two Woodland Road southbound traffic lanes
Despite thousands of additional daily traffic trips from the development project, DCR’s ENF states that the parkway changes will not add to the roadway carrying capacity. To review details of the proposed parkway changes click here.
If this attempt to narrow MEPA environmental review is successful, DCR and the developers will have prevented the public from commenting on how the parkway work relates to impacts from the additional 4,500 daily traffic trips generated when the Langwood Commons housing and office project is completed.
In addition, DCR has not addressed concerns raised by the Massachusetts Historical Commission that the parkway alterations would adversely affect the historic character of the historic parkways. A letter sent in September 2012 by the MHC to DCR stated that the proposed parkway changes would compromise the “integrity of the design, setting, materials, and feeling of the historic parkway.”
DCR appears to want to fast track its Fells parkway alteration scheme by urging the state’s environmental secretary to allow only the minimum time for review and comment. Public opposition to closing comments beyond the orginal March 26 deadline has been successful in obtaining a two week extension. But to-date there has been no evening meeting scheduled by DCR so that the public can have the opportunity to review plans for DCR’s alterations of the parkways.
Full environmental review is required to allow sufficient time for a thorough public process and review of all impacts from the planned development project and proposed parkway changes.
New comment deadline, please act now! Send comments to MEPA by Tuesday, April 9.
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Address your email message to EOEEA Secretary Richard Sullivan, c/o Bill Gage and add MEPA reference #15027 to the subject line:
- Request a full environmental review of planned Fells parkway alterations and development traffic impacts.
- Request that DCR withdraw its parkway modification plans until Fells litigation is settled.
- Request that the an evening public review session should be scheduled by DCR.