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Hazard plan includes potholes, affects new AHS

Patricia Worden, a Precinct 8 Town Meeting member and former official, offered the following opinions about the town's hazardous-mitigation plan, at the Select Board meeting on Jan. 27. Her views include an impact on the new high school.

Option 2, HMFH, Jan. 22, 2019New Arlington High School. HMFH design.

This hazard plan [presented] tonight should help prevent harm to people and properties from natural and man-made hazards. Arlington ‘s flood problems will get worse as climate change progresses.

Rainfall associated with the worst storms in our region is now 71 percent greater than it was 50 years ago. And so – thank you to MAPC and other creators of this hazard-mitigation plan for their very helpful maps.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the report is repetitive boilerplate in which the creators have done a good job checking boxes, but as regards providing improvements for protection of people and properties, not so much – many important factors are ignored, and there are errors.

Cites errors, omissions

In Table 31 of the plan, Arlington High School is cited as having zero infrastructure flood risk and Menotomy Preschool is cited for significant flood risk. But Menotomy Preschool is INSIDE AHS, so that makes no sense.

Another mistake: The report said that Arlington recreated the Town Common. Well, no -- Arlington has never had a common -- the only land that might have resembled a common,  Russell Green, was entirely paved over for a parking lot long ago.

The report says that public participation is very important for this plan. But prior to tonight, there has only been one such public session -- just one in the last seven years.

A much greater concern, neglected in the hazard plan, is failure of town leaders to prioritize hazard mitigation over attempted developer friendly zoning changes for dense residential development removing usable open space which in many cases would worsen hazards. Zoning should be used to reduce hazards but recently town leaders have been doing just the opposite. Fortunately, they have so far been stopped by Town Meeting.

The report indicates the importance of trees in avoiding heat-island effects that are dangerous to seniors. But the Planning Department plans to remove shade trees from Arlington Center to facilitate a lucrative landscape contract. In fact, there is a tree hearing tomorrow, [Jan. 28] where a plea will be made to save the trees.

Mill Brook flooding

Flooding problems are most severe in the Mill Brook valley. The firm Weston & Sampson determined that Arlington should develop a capital-improvement plan for Mill Brook essentially, so that it can run all the way to Mystic Lake without being blocked by the undersized culvert at AHS. That causes the frequent expensive dangerous backup flooding problems upstream.

Solving the Mill Brook’s flooding problems would need the undersized culvert for the Mill Brook that runs beside – not under – the football field, to be replaced or opened up – day-lighted. But the report completely ignores this.

So the problem will go on and get worse. There is no plan -- nothing -- to improve this even though it is at the site of Arlington’s biggest-ever construction plan, the new AHS. There is little or no mention of the FEMA-designated floodways at AHS fields and the large culvert under the high school that may need to be redirected or expanded – it carries storm water from 400 million square feet of watershed under the high school to Mill Brook. There are no permits or order of conditions for this construction nor have they even been applied for. The report ignores this.


Draft of 2020 hazard plan

2012 town hazard plan


This viewpoint was published Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.

The public has until Feb. 10 to offer comment on the plan. Read more here >>

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