Questionnaire from Waltham Land Trust
How would you assess how the city has managed and maintained open space? What plans do you have in mind to improve this work?
The City of Waltham has made great strides in preserving open space over the last 15 years and I am proud to have been a part of it. This would not have occurred without the guidance and leadership of the Waltham Land Trust (WLT).
Unfortunately, the municipal effort to manage and maintain public open spaces has not matched the effort to preserve these spaces. While we have seen improvements (which I supported), such as the installation of rest rooms at Prospect Hill Park and funding for the design to restore Fernald wetlands, much more can and should be done to maintain these precious resources.
To help the City move forward with managing open space, I supported the creation and funding of our new full time park ranger position. Now it is time to expand this effort to include additional full or part-time positions to care for our public forested land and open space.
Any sale of limited Fernald land for less intrusive purposes should include dedicating proceeds to environmental cleanup, maintenance and expanding our park ranger positions.
Additionally, state grants are available to help maintain and improve our open space. Waltham should actively seek this funding.
Should Waltham Land Trust’s position on development guide the management of city-owned property?
To best preserve our natural resources, I believe the WLT position on development of city-owned property should be a guide for city officials.
Any development of the city’s open space should only be considered when there are no other options for conflicting municipal priority needs. For example, to protect open space, I publicly supported building the new high school at the current site utilizing the school property parking lot.
Once that effort failed and it became clear to me the Stigmatine property would be privately developed, I made the successful motion to take the property by eminent domain to prevent private housing development and provide a location for the new high school. This action removed pressure on city and school officials to use the undeveloped UMASS Field Station, Storer and Coleman/Stanton land for our new school, all of which I adamantly opposed.
Regarding the Fernald Property, as state representative I authored legislative language which prevented its sale to developers. I then worked closely with the mayor, council, advocates, state and school officials to transfer the property to Waltham and prevent over development of the site.
Since then, I have fought for a comprehensive community reuse process to prevent over-development on that site. This year, I successfully sought Council approval to adopt the Fernald Working Group proposal to hire outside professional consultants to manage the reuse process.
At a minimum, the majority of the land should be preserved for public open space and recreation. Any limited development ought to be for a necessary municipal need or minimal impact means to finance and maintain our open space and recreation. Any reuse decisions must be made with a comprehensive and professional asset and reuse assessment with extensive public involvement and support.
As the City of Waltham negotiates with UMass to take control of the Waltham Field Station and Lawrence Meadows on Beaver Street, what do you envision as the future for these parcels? What uses would you allow and encourage?
I support the City acquiring the UMASS property along Beaver Street with Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding without further delay.
I have long supported the continuance of farming at the UMASS Field Station. I was proud to play a major role in securing millions of dollars in state funding for the creation of a Sustainability Center at the site. Unfortunately, the Baker Administration did not release this important funding and instead chose to sell the property.
Regarding the future of the parcels, I envision farming to continue and expand to the north part of the property, as well as the continued use of meeting space by the current non-profit organizations. Additionally, I would like to see the creation of a Sustainability Center to serve Waltham and its surrounding communities.