One of the main goals of the Charles River Conservancy is to serve as an advocate for the parklands. This means educating elected officials about best-practice planning, identified problems and needs, and the importance of adequate public funds, both for capital projects and routine maintenance. Often in coalition with public and private partners, the Conservancy participates in the state’s budgeting process, the crafting of park related legislation, and the monitoring of state park planning and parklands maintenance.
Get a brief introduction on two of the Conservancy’s main advocacy campaigns here. Current CRC advocacy activities include:
WATER QUALITY ISSUES: As stewards of the Charles River, the Conservancy advocates for water quality protections. Water quality issues to watch include:
- NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) Control: On April 29, 2016, the MassDEP filed legislation to seek primary control of stormwater regulations. Massachusetts is one of only four states who defers to EPA to manage stormwater regulations. Read the Baker Administration’s press release here.
- This legislation would conform state laws and regulations to EPA’s standards; next, DEP will have to secure funding. The Baker Administration plans to include $4.7 million in the FY17 state budget to cover these costs. This amount is significantly below the Patrick Administration’s $10 million estimate and the Baker Administration’s earlier $7.5 million estimate, raising concerns that the DEP, already under-funded and under-staffed, will not have the means to fulfill the NPDES requirements.
- Boston Globe article: Baker administration seeking greater control over environmental oversight
- Massachusetts Rivers Alliance letter outlining our concerns about this legislation (PDF)
- MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Permits: On April 13, 2016, the EPA and MassDEP jointly issued a new MS4 permit for small municipalities. Read the permit here and MassDEP’s comments on it (PDF).
- These permits will limit the discharge of a nutrient abundant in stormwater runoff, phosphorous. Phosphorous largely contributes to algae blooms, which poses health risks for water-based activities such as swimming and boating on the Charles.
- 2/18/15: CRC comments on the EPA’s Draft General Permit for Small MS4s in MA | PDF
- 11/17/14: CRC comments to the EPA on unacceptable loopholes in the Clean Water Act | PDF
- 7/10/14: CRC comments about MassDEP’s Draft Water Management Act Regulations | PDF
ALLSTON I-90 INTERCHANGE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is planning a 500 million dollar reconstruction of the Mass Pike in Allston. This project will bring many benefits to people who drive on the Pike – it is also an amazing opportunity to transform the Charles River parklands along the Mass Pike and between the BU and River Street Bridges. MassDOT has already proposed moving Soldiers Field Road away from the river alongside the elevated highway viaduct. Read more about potential parkland improvements, and what you can do to help, here.
PEDESTRIAN/BICYCLE UNDERPASSES: Since 2006, the Conservancy has advocated for the inclusion of pedestrian/bicycle underpasses on the Boston side of the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path that circles the Charles at strategic locations. Based on a study of the pathways around the Charles, the Anderson Memorial, Western Avenue, and River Street bridges were identified as the intersections with the severest need for bridge underpasses for pathway users. See the CRC’s full webpage on this campaign here.
CHARLES RIVER BASIN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLAN: The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation drafted a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Charles River Esplanade – New Basin Complex. RMPs provide guidelines and set priorities for maintenance, repair, restoration, and new goals along the Charles. High priority goals for this RMP include flood protection, improvements to Memorial Drive and the Cambridge Esplanade, restoration of the Hatch Shell oval, and more. You can view the complete RMP here.
- CRC comments and recommendations to DCR regarding the RMP | PDF
EF III: EF Education First, Inc. is expanding its campus in the North Point Park area of East Cambridge. Chapter 265 of the Acts of 2014 of the MA Legislature authorized EF to expand on land owned previously owned by the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, and EF has begun the MA Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) process for building on this land. The Conservancy will continue to track progress and post comments here.
- CRC comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) | PDF
3/13/15: CRC comments about relocating DCR parking and storage in the New Basin | PDF
1/9/15: CRC comments in response to the Environmental Notification Form | PDF
DALY FIELD is 8.6 acres of state-owned land located on the Charles on Nonantum Road in Brighton. It is a popular public parkland for baseball, football, soccer, and other athletics. In August 2012, the state legislature passed a law (Bill S.2306) authorizing the DCR to enter into a public-private partnership with Simmons College to establish a 20-year lease on Daly Field, with an option for a 10-year extension. In return, Simmons will spend approximately $5M rehabilitating Daly with synthetic playing fields, a running track, and tennis courts. Public use of the park will be limited. In 2013 and 2014, Simmons went through the MA Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) process.
- Boston Globe Coverage:
- 5/2/15: CRWA’s Margaret van Deusen and ELM’s George Bachrach respond in a letter to the editor.
- 4/30/15: Lynda Connolly of Simmons College responded on April 30 in a letter to the editor.
- 4/28/15: the Globe published an editorial urging Governor Baker to reconsider the Daly Field agreement.
- 4/27/15: Peter Schworm wrote an article covering the Daly Field saga and the recent appeal.
- 4/17/15: The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) and the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) write a letter urging Governor Baker to reconsider disposing Daly Field | PDF
- 3/14/14: MEPA certificate on the Final Environmental Impact Report | PDF
- 3/7/14: CRC comments in response to the Final Environmental Impact Report | PDF
- 11/15/13: MEPA certificate requiring Friends of Daly Field/Simmons to prepare a Final Environmental Impact Report | PDF
- 11/5/13: CRC comments on the Single Environmental Impact Report | PDF
- 6/14/13: MEPA certificate requiring Friends of Daly Field/Simmons to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) | PDF
- 6/6/13: CRC comments in response to the Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) | PDF
BOND BILL AND BUDGETING: The Conservancy advocates for increased funding for state park agencies and for inclusions in the Environmental Bond Bill to increase funding for parkland advocacy.
- 8/5/14: Final Environmental Bond Bill inclusions and amendments advocated for by the Conservancy | PDF
- 6/6/14: Environmental Bond Bill inclusions and amendments advocated for by the Conservancy | PDF
- 12/13/13: CRC letter to EOEEA Secretary Rick Sullivan regarding EEA’s 2015 budget | PDF
- 12/9/13: Letter from Representative Jay Livingstone about Environmental Bond Bill provisions | PDF
OTHER URBAN PLANNING & PARKS ISSUES:
- 8/18/15: CRC letter supporting the use of CPA funds for Hell’s Half Acre | PDF
- 12/23/14: CRC letter in support of a Kendall Square/North Station/Grand Junction DMU Connector | PDF
- 1/29/14: CRC letter in support of the Powder Magazine at Magazine Beach | PDF
- 1/8/14: CRC letter to Mayor Walsh and the Open Space and Environment Transition Team | PDF
- 9/23/13: CRC comments on the Harvard Institutional Master Plan | PDF
COALITION LETTERS WITH ADVOCACY PARTNERS:
- 7/9/15: Group letter to Governor Baker regarding the effects of early retirement | PDF
- 4/28/15: Group letter to EOEEA Undersecretary Rachel Madden regarding Executive Order #562 | PDF
- 4/28/15: Group letter to MA Attorney General Maura Healey regarding Executive Order #562 | PDF
- 10/28/14: Comments on the bicycle and pedestrian facilities at the Craigie and Longfellow Bridges | PDF