WVN #413: The future of "Dudley Woods"/Astley resources/Health director
- Dear Wayland Voter,
You may hear the term charrette a lot in the coming months as residents discuss the future of seven town-owned acres near Dudley pond. Voters could have a proposal to consider at the spring 2012 Town Meeting.
Also in this newsletter:
--New Wayland health director.
-- Lauren Astley story resources
RESIDENTS CONSIDER DUDLEY FUTURE
The French word for cart, charrette has become a trendy alternative to "forum" or "discussion," particularly when architecture or city planning is concerned. Consultants from two firms well acquainted with the term were on hand when about 60 people gathered on June 27 to consider a variety of options for property between Doran Road and Pond Road. Another session is planned for September.
The impetus for the charrette came from a Town Meeting vote in April to create a temporary Dudley Area Advisory Committee that will gather information and make recommendations to the selectmen. Voters had expressed differing and potentially conflicting visions for the land: open space, affordable housing, passive recreation, playing fields, septic treatment. A vote to preserve the area fell just short of a required two-thirds majority.
Interest groups include the Wayland Housing Authority and Housing Partnership and a group of nearby residents called Wayland Neighbors for Responsible Land Use (WN4RLU), which refers to the land as Dudley Woods.
Consultants from the two firms hired by the Committee, Gates, Leighton & Associates (landscape architects) and Tighe & Bond (engineering and environment), referred to poster boards showing area photographs from various angles, surface water flow, the layout of streets, and detailing the many individual land parcels. Land parcels were color-coded and marked to show deed restrictions as well as which town boards have managing care and custody of them.
When a drawing indicating where housing might be placed was shown, some attendees immediately voiced concern that poster boards had been advanced about the housing option while similar detailed visuals were not being shown for other possible land uses. One person asked what would happen if the outcome of the charrette disfavored housing. Another person suggested that the meeting was a waste of time because everyone there had already decided to leave the property as it was and not put anything new there.
The meeting then broke up into six discussion groups, who reported their results at the end of a 45-minute session.
One group felt that not even parking spaces or picnic benches should be added to the area because that might encourage people from outside the area to use it, endangering a fragile ecosystem. Another group was a little more welcoming, suggesting that some trails be added to connect to the rest of town, enhanced by kiosks describing the flora and fauna. That group suggested that visitors park at the Middle School and walk to the area. No one thought that visitors should be encouraged to launch canoes from Rocky Point on the town-owned shore. Suggested alternatives included the Dudley Chateau restaurant parking lot.
Two of the six group presenters admitted that they included a couple of people who were interested in housing, but then did not discuss any housing options.
Members of several groups suggested that the property also be used for some kind of wastewater management for abutters. It was noted that government money would be needed to help finance such a project, but that it would benefit the pond water quality. Suggestions included septic below a meadow or a passive solar system such as exists in Weston Center.
Post-Charrette Committee Discussion
Although the results of the charrette indicated near-unanimity on the concepts of passive recreation trails connecting this area to other parts of Cochituate, improving drainage and adding some septic capability, the Advisory Committee's extended discussion after the meeting audience left dismissed some of the results.
Russ Ashton, representing the Housing Authority on the Committee, said the attendees "were the neighbors and did not represent the whole town." Whenever a change in land use is discussed at a public meeting, many people who live nearby tend to show up. WN4RLU, the neighbors' group, has kept its members informed and encouraged them to attend discussions.
Attendance at the charrette was diminished by being scheduled at the same time as four other boards meeting jointly for the town's ongoing financial operational review. Two dozen active officials and residents attended the other meeting.
Some on the Committee bemoaned the lack of attendance from affordable housing advocates, and agreed to further evaluate adding elements to the plan. Only about a half dozen members of the Housing Partnership or Housing Authority were present.
Ian Catlow of Tighe & Bond noted it was unusual for neighbors to advocate for wastewater solutions, which he said many communities do not want in their back yards.
Rachel Bratt, from the Housing Partnership, suggested that adding five or six homes could help reduce costs of a shared septic system allowing neighbors to tie in. Some residents have poorly functioning individual systems. Studies have indicated that this land drains particularly well to the pond, which makes adding standard septic systems problematic as the pond would be harmed by additional phosphorous or nitrogen. More advanced systems might avoid this effect. Also, the initial presentation noted that the part of the land closest to Route 27 drained to the north, not towards the pond.
Bratt noted that there is "a ton of resistance as the neighbors feel they are congested already, and the area is too dense."
"That wouldn't change with five or six houses," she said. Mike Lowery, representing Surface Water Quality Committee, said "density is not the issue, it's a subterfuge. Of the more than 600 lots in the area, to add two or three is a small percentage."
There was no discussion of the lack of open space (excluding the pond itself) in the area, other than the wooded wetlands across from the Middle School.
Committee Chair Pat Reinhardt said funds gained from selling a couple of lots for market rate homes could be put in escrow to help with infrastructure improvements and maintenance of trails. Ashton noted that financing was not addressed in the charrette.
Steve Garone, representing the Dudley Pond Association, said "attendees perceived they got their message across and will be disillusioned and think they were unheard" if different plans are advanced. Ashton said it is town property, and called the opinions expressed NIMBY ("not in my back yard"). Brud Wright, from the Recreation Commission, said he would be "troubled" if the committee went too far off the consensus. Lowery noted it was the committee's charge to evaluate alternatives. Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian called the charrette part of the process.
Key Puzzle Piece
There were some missing pieces. Town counsel Mark Lanza has not reviewed deeds for all the properties. This is a key puzzle piece because at least two parcels were designated "for recreation use." Committee chair Reinhardt asked Selectman Steve Correia to expedite Lanza's review.
In 1977 Town Meeting voted to transfer a number of parcels to the Housing Authority, but the transfer never took place. During the charrette, it was suggested that the designated "recreation" parcels could be exchanged for other parcels merely designated "town property" so that all the recreation parcels would be contiguous and the other parcels (about half the total area) could be used for another purpose such as housing or a community septic system.
There was consensus that the Committee should inform the public that additional scenarios will be evaluated. There also was consensus to postpone the next charrette until September and then focus on wastewater and drainage. The Committee will meet next on July 19. In the meantime, Tighe & Bond has recommended some soil testing and will provide cost estimates of some improvements suggested, such as drainage and wastewater.
Selectman Correia told the Committee it had sufficient time because there won't be a fall Town Meeting; next spring would be the first chance to put recommendations to a vote.
"It would be very unusual for us not to go with the advisory committee's recommendation," Correia said.
The Committee has information at:
-- WVN Staff
NEW HEALTH DIRECTOR
The Board of Health has interviewed and voted to appoint Julia Junghanns as Wayland's new health director, replacing the retiring Steve Calichman.
Calichman has managed the health department since April 1994, overseeing many changes that have occurred: capping the former landfill and transition of that facility to the DPW, taking on school nursing services from Parmenter, implementing changes to Title V septic regulations, meeting increased demand for public health services such as for Lyme disease and various forms of influenza. Junghanns has worked in Wayland's health department for more than a decade and is the town's registered sanitarian and health agent.
For a better idea of the wide range of issues and services see the department's detailed annual report starting on page 42:
and the department website: http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_Health/index
CHANGES TO TOWN BUILDING HOURS
The insert included with the latest tax bill mailing is inaccurate regarding changes in Town Building office hours. The changes are effective Monday, July 11. And on Tuesdays through Thursdays, offices will close at 4 p.m. For a complete listing:
LAUREN ASTLEY SUPPORT SERVICES
Families coping with the killing of Lauren Astley on July 4 can reach support services at Wayland Family Services (508-358-4293) and Human Relations Services (781-235-4950 ext. 4990).
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday July 16 at Wayland's First Parish Church.
For continuing coverage of the Lauren Astley story:
You can read all previous WVN newsletters at:
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor