Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Letter to the ZBA

Our Concerns regarding a Boat Rental Business, mirror exactly our concerns related to the Rail Trail.

We are supporters of access to the Ben Smith Impoundment which cradles our home, for canoe and kayak use by local residents. We do not, however, want our neighborhood impacted by overuse of these limited resources.

Our neighborhood is on a dead end road, at the end of a dead end road, it is one of the quietest parts of town. The proposed business would rely on this fact to attract customers who want to get away and get out into nature. Unfortunately they create an Observer Effect, the act of observation changing the environment they intended to enjoy. Their enjoyment would alter the environment, residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

This proposal constitutes substantive changes to the character of the neighborhood. Traffic, Noise, Privacy, and Trespassing are all problems that would escalate with increased usage. We ask that as we allow greater access to the river and expanded recreational opportunities to our local community we do not turn our little piece of heaven into a "Recreation Destination" for people from around the state, country and the world. The problem is not the type of usage but the intensity of that usage that results in degradation. We are concerned that commercialization would lead to expansionist desires and ultimately the loss of that which we love. The more people the greater the impact. Residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

We do not believe the intent of the recreational use provision, was to allow for a “for profit”, commercial, business, use in a residential area. Recreational Use does not mean Commercial Use. The proposal asserts that "a kayak rental business on this section of the river would be an asset to the community". It is clear the petitioner is not very familiar with kayaking or this section of the river. Otherwise he would know that he already has an approved plan to service this section of the river from Crow Island. If the petitioner is trying to remedy his previous mistake in locating a business so far out in the woods as to make it impractical, there are better locations available than at our home. Residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

The petitioner wants to turn our residential neighborhood and adjacent open space into a business. If allowed we would be surrounded by the petitioner's customers. First in front of our house,  Second very close to the side of our house on our Narrow, Dirt, Private, Road, as they drive around. Third where they would Park their Cars and gather by the Portable Toilet Facility behind our house. Then finally they would take the boats, that they paid the petitioner to rent, and come back by the other side of our house, laughing, chatting and enjoying themselves, floating into our back yard. They would then float around to enjoy themselves on the pond in front of our house. The petitioner would be compensated for this inconvenience by the rental fees, the rest of the residents would not; even though the changes the petitioner proposes would affect the real value of our properties. Residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

We have to question the wisdom in locating a business a mile though a quiet neighborhood in Stow, from 117, just to get to our Private, Narrow, Dead End, Road. A better solution appears obvious. the petitioner has requested to operate this same business at Ice House Landing. Vehicles would not have to travel through neighborhoods or along the rail trail, creating much less overall impact as well as more business than sending this additional traffic all the way through our neighborhood and those in Stow. There is already parking at Ice House Landing just off of 117, a Town of Maynard public area, next to the Maynard DPW which already has a strong police presence as it is an active town facility and refueling site. Stow and Maynard are already working together with plans for the rail trail. Why not include this boat rental and its required parking etc. with rail trail parking and access at Ice House Landing? We believe that the parking needs of the rail trail, the wildlife preserve and the petitioner's boat rental business must balance with the conundrum that bringing ever more people to the river and into the wildlife preserve is detrimental to preservation. Regardless we believe that parking for all of these endeavors could be located at Ice House Landing in Maynard and we request that the elected and appointed officials of Maynard and Stow work to make this so. Not doing so would adversely impact residents, plant and animal and human, in our neighborhood.

The petitioner has backed away from his claims to the Stow Planning Board that he was not pursuing this business at Icehouse Landing. He now claims he is approved to use Icehouse Landing, but if this too changes, we propose that the petitioner choose a site for his business that is appropriate for this type of activity. Mill Pond Square would be a much better business location, for both the petitioner and the Town of Maynard. Located at the intersection of Rt 62 and Rt 117, it is zoned for business and would also service this section of the river all the way past Crow Island. It looks like they have space. http://www.millpondsquare.com/ If the Town feels we really need another Boat Rental this close to the one the petitioner is planning on running at Crow Island and the added cost of rental space at Mill Pond Square disrupts the petitioner's carefully calculated revenue models, perhaps the town could subsidize his rental cost in order to provide this service to the community. While this would still impact residents, plant and animal and human, in our neighborhood, the disruption would be reduced as these visitors would be passing by and not lingering around our homes.

We must make sure that any increased usage is controlled so as not to ruin what we all love about this area: its unique tranquility and rural character, something we have lost so much of elsewhere in our community. We request that the Zoning Board not approve this Permit Application but instead work with the Selectmen and other necessary agencies in Maynard and Stow to facilitate the petitioner's ability to operate a single rental operation with the least impact to the community and our environment as possible. Since the petitioner is already planning to operate this business from Crow Island we can not understand the need to have an additional location so close, and so close to our home. In addition we feel that the Town of Maynard should prohibit use of Rental Boats on the Ben Smith Impoundment downstream of the White Pond Road Bridge. This would reduce the impact to residents, plant and animal and human, in our neighborhood, without impacting the experience of the petitioner's customers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kayak Rentals

What gives with this guy Buzz Donahue? 

Is he trying to Korner the Kayak market on the Ben Smith Pond?


Why would you need three different rental locations in effectively the same place?

Something smells funny and its not rotting duckweed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

EPA Withdraws Decision

Well maybe people can be made to listen. It looks like our efforts are having some effect.

On February 22, 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew its approval of the City of Marlborough’s 44% increase in wastewater discharge to the Assabet River. OAR and the Town of Stow had appealed the permit modification in January 2010 citing violation of state water quality standards.


In December 2009 DEP received public comment on a study of other ways to reduce phosphorus in the river, including removing sediment and dams. “Based on the sediment and dam removal study, it is clear that the only feasible way to meet water quality standards in the near future is to have more stringent limits at the wastewater treatment plants,” said OAR’s Acting Executive Director, Alison Field-Juma. “Marlborough’s request to increase their discharge to the river should have been evaluated in light of this new information, as required by law. Until the big questions are solved, allowing an increase in treated effluent discharged to the river is premature, at best. There are alternatives that would still allow the communities to grow, but not pollute the river,”

New discharge permits for the four municipal wastewater treatment plants on the Assabet (Westborough, Marlborough Westerly, Hudson and Maynard), are due out in 2010 and are required to meet the water quality standards. This would become increasingly difficult if the treatment plant discharges were increased.

Thanks to everyone for all the letters and support. Vigillent we must remain.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter to the DEP V

December 19, 2009

To Whom it May Concern:

I wish to state my opposition to the dam removal project proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The many letters of protest that the proposal has generated iterate most of my ideas: the ridiculous ecological disaster of the dam removal, the irreparable damage to the environment, the prohibitive costs, the problems of fire protection, the possible damage to local wells, and the biased financial interests of the current polluters, the “watertreatment” facilities. I have been to two of the hearings on this proposal, and the many people who speak seem universally appalled by the whole procedure as well as the proposal itself.

My voice represents a small neighborhood of abutters to the river in the Marlboro Road district of Gleasondale (Stow). We have gathered together and discussed the proposal, and we look with alarm on those outsiders who apparently think they act in our behalf. Furthermore, at one of the meetings, the Army Corps representative smiled smugly and implied that the protesters were common “tree-huggers,” i.e., disillusioned and romantic wild–life lovers who stand in the way of progress. With this kind of “dispassionate” and biased opinions running the show, we who are citizens feel steamrollered by a machine which has no particular feeling for the area they seek to destroy.

My tax money indirectly paid for the survey. Our tax money pays the salaries of the Corps of Engineers and the Massachusetts Conservation Corps. Why, then, do they conveniently pocket the Stow protestors as a group to whom thy are not directly responsible?

The proposal to remove the dams is environmentally faulty and financially ridiculous. Kindly hear the many voices of reason and a pursue a more rational course of action.

Letter to the DEP IV

Regarding the proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers to possibly remove the Ben Smith and other dams along the Assabet River.

December 20, 2009

To Whom It May Concern,

I am adding my voice to those against the Corps’ dam removal proposal. Dam removal is NOT the best solution. I’m aware that many have written letters more eloquently—some with greater knowledge of the details. I join them in saying that removing the dams would have more of a negative than a positive impact on the Assabet River.

I have attended three meetings presented by the Army Corps of Engineer during the past two years. From the beginning, the studies and viewpoints seemed to me to be distorted (mostly
one-sided) and disingenuous. There were no details put forth initially on the impact dam removal would have on certain areas of the Assabet (such as in Stow). No study was done on the environmental impact. If some portions of the river are all but “disappeared” what happens to those areas, the water supply, the residential and business wells, the water-life, wild-life, recreational use, etc. as a result?! It also seems to me:

• Allowing the destruction of some of the most beautiful, vibrant, and useful portions of the Assabet Rver and surroundings should NOT be allowed.

• These areas are used and enjoyed by many, including kayakers, hikers, canoers, hunters, fishemen, families—as well as treasured abutters and those living in towns near the Assabet.

• Not only is the Assabet a source of beauty and a haven for wildlife, we in Stow depend on it as a source of water (wells) and fire protection (from the river water).

• A great part of the solution lies in holding the water treatment plants responsible for higher standards; towns with water treatment plants pouring their waste into the river should be held accountable for better treatment facilities; for educating their residents and businesses to use less-polluting substances that end up in the Assabet; to cut back on the waste amount they can put into the river.

My husband I have been abutters to the Assabet River since moving to the Gleasondale area of Stow in 2001. It was the magnificent beauty, the wildlife, and the serenity of this portion
of the river that drew us here. “A “pocket of peace!” is how a visiting friend from Holland refers to it. Not a day goes by without us counting our blessings and good fortune to have our home be this sweet and semi-wild Assabet River! Daily we celebrate the abundant wildlife that inhabit these environs: red-tailed hawl, heron, owls, frogs, a variety of fish species, turtles, muskrats, otter, fisher-cat, river snakes,several duck species, to name just some. As one neighbor down the road put it, “we don’t even have to drive to Maine for this.”

We are aware that over the years many have put in immense effort in cleaning up the river (such as OAR) and bringing it to its current standard. As this is our “back yard” we not naturally want to protect this, and we also feel a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect the Assabet River and wetlands for the future. Once gone, it will not come back.

Finally—as I consider proposed “solution” of dam removal, I cannot help but wonder: Who is getting to decide (and how) which portions of the Assabet River to possibly destroy in order to “save” the river?

Increases in Discharge and TMDL

The discharge permit for the Marlborough treatment plant, which also serves Northborough, was modified in November, 2009 to allow a 40% increase in the wastewater the plant discharges to the Assabet River. The law requires that the permit modification, issued under the state and federal Clean Water Acts, contain sufficient limits on pollutant discharge to enable the river to meet its water quality standard. The river does not yet meet this standard (Class B—clean enough for fishing and swimming), due primarily to the phosphorus contained in the wastewater discharges from four municipal treatment plants.


Why when the Assabet River does not meet the current clean water standards would this plant be allowed to dump more pollutants into our river.

We thought we were talking about TMDL. The Total Maximum Daily Load of phospourus in the river.

The discharge of phosprous is measured in mg/l (milligrams/liter)
A 40% increase in (liters) without a decease in (milligrams/liter) leads to a 40% increase in phospourus.

The current permit includes an annual average flow limit of 2.89 MGD and a 54 month compliance schedule for meeting the April- October 0.1 mg/l monthly average total phosphorus limit. Because the compliance schedule for meeting the new phosphorus limit was a contested condition, the schedule did not become effective until May 17, 2006, making the final compliance date November 17, 2010. An interim total phosphorus limit of 0.75 mg/l average monthly is in effect for the months of April- October. The monthly average total phosphorus limit of 1.0 mg/l for the months of November- March was required to be met within one year of the issuance date of the permit.


Because of the flow increase, EPA made changes to the effluent limitations to ensure that the discharge does not exceed the wasteload imposed by the TMDL nor exceed applicable water quality standards. The specific changes are described below.

Total Phosphorus

The total phosphorus concentration limits in the permit modification have not been changed, but mass limits have been added, calculated using the concentration limits and a flow of 2.89 MGD. In order to achieve these mass limits as the discharge flow increases, the facility must achieve ever-lower concentrations of total phosphorus, down to 0.07 mg/l to achieve the summer limits at the new design flow and 0.7 mg/l to achieve the winter limits at the new design flow.


Status Quo is not good enough. The river does not currently meet the Class B standard (clean enough for fishing and swimming).

Why is this plant still not being held to a year round limit of 0.07mg/l. The technology is available.

If the City of Marlboro can not afford to not to pollute our river. Then we say they can not afford to continue with this unchecked development.

Common sense tells us that some of the money from all this development, which is currently going to line the pockets of developers and politicians, needs to be redirected towards correcting the problems with this and other wastewater treatment plants along this river.

Enough is enough the Assabet River can no longer be Marlboro's or anyone else's sewer.

Monday, December 28, 2009

OAR Takes a Position

After what felt like years of: "We have no official position on dam removal", OARs executive director has finally taken a look at the real impacts of dam removal and has said:

The primary source of phosphorus is known to be the four municipal wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the river. In conjunction with the study, OAR convened two River Restoration Workshops to inform the community—and ourselves—about how dam removal could affect river water quality, river ecology, and the watershed as a whole. In these workshops we learned that although dam removal can have a positive impact on river water quality and provide better habitat by allowing free fish passage, among other benefits, it is an extremely complicated process and requires, at minimum, willing dam owners, a supportive river community, and lengthy regulatory review.

Given the great uncertainty in the cost estimates of the dam removals and accompanying site restoration, the lack of support of the largest dam owners, and objections by communities affected by some of the larger dams, OAR believes that removing dams, either singly or in combination, is not a viable option for achieving water quality standards for the Assabet River for Phase 2 NPDES permitting.


While we agree that removing these dams is not a viable option. We are concerned about OARs qualifications: "for achieving water quality standards for the Assabet River for Phase 2 NPDES permitting". We hope no one at OAR thinks, that based on everything that is now known about removing the Ben Smith Dam, that removing it might be a viable option at all, for the foreseeable future.

We do wholeheartedly agree that the wastewater treatment facilities must be made to clean up their own mess and not to continue to expect communities downstream to pay the price for their less than neighborly behavior.

"Based on results of this modeling effort, it was concluded that winter limits for the WWTFs, below the current planned limit of 1 mg/L would contribute significantly to the reduction in sediment phosphorus flux.” It goes on to state that: “If no other improvements were implemented, further reductions in summer P discharge limits, below 0.1 mg/L, would not contribute significantly to further reduction in sediment phosphorus flux. This is because the winter instream phosphorus concentration has such a strong effect on the P flux the following summer.” (CDM Report p. 6-7, emphasis added)

the CDM Report shows that lower winter phosphorus limits, in combination with the planned WWTF upgrades mandated by Phase 1 permits, would offer immediate and achievable water quality improvements. We believe that this approach would benefit the river, the wildlife that lives in and around the river, and the communities that have grown up along it.


Hear! Hear!

How do we make sure this is what really happens?