WVN #429: Plans for two woods
- Dear Wayland Voter,
There's a new wrinkle in controversial and potentially expensive proposals to create two new athletic fields in woods near the Middle School: Native American artifacts.
Also in this newsletter: A lot of detailed work lies ahead to prepare an article for spring Town Meeting on what to do with seven acres of town-owned wooded land near Dudley Pond. Pressure for development there may be increased since the Town Center developer reduced its commitment to affordable housing.
Middle School Fields Would Be Expensive
Another reason has emerged to avoid woods at the Wayland Middle School, examined as the site for one or two grass soccer fields. Several sites with ceremonial stone landscapes from Native Americans of centuries past have been authenticated. The stones indicate the site was an upland ceremonial ground, with prayers in stone.
The location also has considerable rock ledge, which would make new fields about twice as expensive as in an easier location.
The site was examined by Doug Harris, deputy tribal historic preservation officer, Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Wyoming, Rhode Island. His letter, read into the public record at the Recreation Commission's Nov. 30 public forum, said, "I offer to you that this is a still active traditional ceremonial landscape that is worthy of your protection."
Tonya Largy of the Wayland Historical Commission urged preserving the town's history, confirming that there were many authentic features in these woods warranting protection.
The Recreation Commission is scheduled to decide its recommendation on fields at at its meeting on Dec. 13 when the second report from Gale Associates consultants will be discussed. The second report examines all town-owned land for potential field sites; the earlier study looked at school and recreation land.
At last week's forum, Sheila Carel noted preserving this history would send a message of stewardship to students, so they could appreciate first hand what they are learning within the school walls.
The estimated prices, based only on a few borings, were $1.4 million for two fields, and about $500,000 for one field, about double the cost of a flat site. No drainage study has been done, and neighbors pointed out that flattening a large area could have a significant impact on the amount and rate of runoff. The site investigation was not done in the spring, so the existence of a vernal pools in the area was not verified, nor the denizens therein.
Neighbor Bill Hearne suggested that the Recreation Commission discuss with the High School Building Committee the possible availability of space for a new field at the high school as well as possible availability of some funds.
Keith and Joyce Road neighbors attended in force, and raised questions about runoff, costs, the need for new fields with a declining school population, habitat and wildlife protection, lack of parking and groundwater analyses, and potential need for examination of soil and ash because a trash dump with open-air burning was previously located in the area.
Neighbors suggested converting some dedicated fields, such as the baseball diamond in Cochituate, into multi-use fields. Members of the Rec Commission mentioned the possibility of taking a grass field out of rotation and installing an artificial turf field. The last such field the town installed, at the high school in 2007, cost close to $1 million.
Resident Tom Sciacca, who has researched turf fields extensively, cited studies show ing an 80% greater rate of some kinds of injuries on artificial turf fields, and referred to the Wayland High star quarterback injured on the high school field just one week after it was installed. The player was sidelined for a year, he said.
There was no outright objection from commissioners over the prices mentioned for the Middle School site, but they deferred discussing costs until their next meeting when they hope to have more information available and all commissioners present.
The public also asked Tighe and Bond consultants to express expert opinions about the various options they presented as well as the feasibility of siting additional septic leachfield beds under such proposed fields.
Information and draft site plans had been posted on the town website by the town administrator weeks earlier, but it was not always possible for the recreation commissioners or their director to fully respond to some of the citizens' questions. The Scope Of Work for Tighe and Bond, for example, was referenced by a town official in the audience, but it is not included among the posted documents:
Given the volume of information presented and extensively discussed to date, before they adjourned the meeting, the commissioners were able to reach consensus on what to eliminate from further consideration. They voted unanimously to remove from the table the two site plans that showed two fields each. That left two Tighe and Bond site plans with one field each (east/west vs. north/south orientations) still up for consideration.
-- WVN Staff
DUDLEY AREA TALKS FACE DEADLINE
The Dudley Area Advisory Committee (DAAC) continues to work toward the chair's "admittedly lofty goal of consensus" on the best use of seven acres in Cochituate near Dudley Pond called the Doran parcel or Dudley Woods area.
With a spring Annual Town Meeting warrant article submission deadline in mid- January, the committee has accelerated its meeting schedule and is still striving to develop criteria for determining the best use of the land. Leaving open space is a popular idea, and some would like to see affordable housing.
The committee didn't tackle criteria at its Nov. 29 meeting as scheduled because of perceived unresolved issues of land use. A portion abutting Dudley Pond is held by the Department of Public Works. About half of the land is held by the Recreation Commission and some was donated for recreation use. The other half is held by the Board of Selectmen, much of it from tax delinquencies, with no designated use. But the parcels belonging to these two boards are interspersed and for the most part, quite small. The Board of Selectmen holds a sequential string of parcels amounting to 20,000 square feet that potentially could be developed, consultant Don Leighton of Leighton Associates observed.
A much revised motion from the group asks counsel what steps are necessary to dedicate the land (but not transfer) for purposes decided by the DAAC.
A June 30 memo from town counsel Mark Lanza notes that a particular board having care and custody of land needs to decide that the land is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was acquired, and then a two-thirds vote of town meeting is required to change the use restrictions on these parcels.
This memo apparently ignores the fact that donors years ago specified the use of the half-acre of donated land and trusted the town to honor that understanding.
A proposal to decide on the rest of the property's uses while leaving a portion for potential housing did not receive endorsement from the two housing advocates on the committee, Russ Ashton and Rachel Bratt, so that suggestion was not pursued. Consultants had indicated that a different, larger area was more suitable for housing.
After the narrow defeat of a 2010 Town Meeting motion to preserve the land as open space with some accommodation for existing septic needs, the DAAC was formed by the selectmen to provide advice.
Open Space Popular
When members were asked at a prior meeting to sketch proposed uses on the land, all mentioned open space although most listed additional uses. At least three of the nine members did not include housing on the site. All the presentations made during the public discussion earlier in the year listed open space, and several listed only open space and some area for septage improvements for the neighborhood. Many of the attendees live nearby.
Consultant Leighton had reworked the committee's sketches to scale, and told the group that six units of housing would consume about one sixth of the area, while 11 units would take one half of the parcel. When housing was included by members in their sketches, their suggestions ranged from four to six units. Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian noted that four units could be clustered on 20,000 square feet of land.
Septic and Other Options
The committee's consultants, Tighe and Bond and Leighton Associates, described the imperative of avoiding harm to Dudley Pond, and explored means of lessening surface runoff as well as ensuring that potential septic for housing on the site would not damage the pond. The area's soil and groundwater flow direction ensure rapid subsurface flow from the site to the pond.
The committee has examined these options for septage:
a. New centralized wastewater treatment and disposal near Dudley Pond or the project area.
b. New centralized wastewater treatment and disposal off site which could include Wayland DPW garage, the Wayland Middle School site or other town-owned areas.
c. Localized collection and satellite wastewater treatment and groundwater disposal facilities within the project area.
d. Individual on-site treatment and disposal with continued reliance on individual on-site wastewater treatment and disposal systems.
e. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority connection and transmission main to carry wastewater to the nearest practical MWRA connection, likely to the south along Route 27 in Natick.
At the Nov. 29 meeting, there was discussion of new developments, including the possibility of a 40B affordable housing project on Route 20 and the availability of a new type of septic system for individual homes that might reduce the size of leaching fields. The potential for new housing in another location is relevant because it might reduce the pressure for affordable housing on the Dudley Woods parcel.
Attention had turned to Dudley Woods after Town Center developer Twenty Wayland LLC asked the town to amend the 2006 mixed-use zoning bylaw at the fall 2009 Special Town Meeting to reduce Twenty Wayland's commitment to affordable housing. As a result, instead of 22 two-bedroom condos at affordable prices there are to be 12 one-bedroom units over stores.
Septic relief can be expensive, and there were various ideas on how to pay for improvements grants, betterment surcharges, or subsidy. Betterment received fewer objections than subsidy.
In a memo to the committee, member Rachel Bratt suggested the town could borrow from the Massachusetts Water Abatement Trust, "which provides 0% interest rate loans, to cover the cost of one or more centralized septic facilities ." for which homeowners would repay the cost through betterment fees. http://www.mass.gov/treasury/affilated-prog/wpat/
Disagreement among DAAC members remains. While Brud Wright maintained that leaving the land in its current state is an option, Russ Ashton said that would be "a neglect of process" because " it wouldn't be generating anything (i.e. revenue) to the town." Wright suggested the committee should consider "what we want, rather than what we're willing to accept."
Meetings are scheduled for Dec. 12, 19, 20 and Jan. 3 and 5.
Information on DAAC meetings and studies may be found at http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_BComm/Dudley/index
-- Molly Upton
WAYCAM MOVING TO NEW HOME IN FIELD HOUSE
With WayCAM possibly blacked out for live broadcasts, though posting new rebroadcasts on its video archive, a good way for the public to follow town finances is to attend meetings in Town Hall. A lot is happening this month: FY11 audit, setting of FY12 tax rate with filing of tax recap sheet, FY13 budget planning.
Click on calendar date to access posted meeting agendas.
Monday evening FinCom/BoS joint discussion about the FY11 Audit with link to the docs:
Monday Dec. 5:
Operational Review Committee 6 p.m.
FinCom 7 p.m.
Selectmen 7 p.m.
Board of Public Works 7 p.m.
School Committee 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 6:
Planning Board 7:30 p.m.
Electronic Voting 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 7:
Wastewater Management District Commission 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7-9 p.m., Town Building. Reception to introduce the Timebank exhibit, which will run into early January. Refreshments and live music.
Timebanking involves spending time doing something for somebody in the community. In return, the same amount of time is given in service to you.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor