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Letter to the Editor: Weston Environmental Issues

A letter to the editor from William Crum.

Dear Editor:

Now that our Annual Election and Town Meeting are completed, many of us no doubt look forward to a relaxing, contemplative summer. In that spirit, in the past 31 years, out of 63 Selectperson and Moderator races, only 10 were competitive (some open) and no incumbent ever lost. Maybe we live in the “best of all possible” towns to paraphrase Voltaire’s Prof. Pangloss or maybe we could use more informed choices as involved voters.

Meanwhile, a number of environmental issues need our attention, now and in the future. I have more questions than answers, but then that’s part of lifelong learning.

Hobbs Brook Dam and Pond. I supported Article 25 to repair the Hobbs Brook Dam and am glad it passed. I hope the project will get started with expedited state regulatory approvals and completed before the ground freezes this fall. A related project is to acquire access rights from the two private landowning abutters to let hikers walk all the way around the pond, either through a consensual deal or, as a last resort, via eminent domain while respecting the owners’ privacy. As I mentioned at Town Meeting, if the Conservation Committee can document recent access right purchases by nearby towns, it would benchmark the market rates and facilitate negotiations.

Fixing the Hobbs Brook Dam is both important and urgent given the thoughtless scarring of the “far side” of the Ash Street Reservoir by the Mass. Water Resource Authority and DEP, which cut down 50-year-old-plus pine trees and erected ugly concrete barriers with curiously little public outcry or effective opposition by the town government. Once one of the most lovely sites in town, this will never be restored in our lifetimes. Yuck!

Stop Regis vs. Case Estate Purchase. Regis’s ambitious plans to cut down yet more trees and erect “tall towers” of senior housing between Ash and Wellesley Streets with a fig leaf of non-graded educational offerings have been delayed if not fully blocked by the Zoning Board, which has been actively litigating the matter in court.

By contrast, the Zoning Board has been largely uninvolved in incompetent six year negotiations to purchase tainted land from Harvard right down the road at the Case Estates. Why not declare the area a historic zone, like Crescent Street, and stop Harvard from selling the land to a still “secret developer” that threatens to cut down the trees? (Note a common theme?) Harvard might claim a Dover Amendment exemption, but see Regis above.

Instead, Selectman Michael Harrity wants to be the sole person negotiating with Harvard University. This is what the ancient Greeks called hubris. At least attorney Jan Schlichtmann, who bungled a class action against W. R. Grace for polluting water levels in Woburn as shown in A Civil Action, was trying to collect money from the polluter, but Harrity wants Weston voters to pay over $350,000 per acre to the polluter for land of limited use, including some plots to be resold to developers. Should the town government be a real estate speculator? No!

“Deer Management”: Last week, in Weston, subject to ratification by the Selectmen on June 11. The main rationale was that deer carry ticks which carry Lyme disease, which can be minimized with bug spray, protective clothing and pet and human grooming. Left unconsidered were controlling deer via fencing, sterilization and / or relocation to northern New England.

Have the Con. Com. members heard of Cheryl Blair, whose pelvis was shattered in Norton, Mass., on New Year’s Eve at dusk by her neighbor, an off duty State Trooper, who said he mistook the tail of one of her golden retrievers for a deer? Ms. Blair required 10 painful surgeries, but Mr. Bergeron, the “hunter,” has not been charged or fined for reckless endangerment or even lost his hunting license. As John Le Carre might say, a multi-month investigation by the Mass. Environmental Police is “still ongoing” per a 4/10/12 article by the Norton Mirror.

If even one Weston human hiker or dog is shot by deer hunters hiding in trees, it will be one too many!

William Crum,
Hobbs Brook Road

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