Local Advocacy Leads to Better Redevelopment

December 10, 2018 — We’ve been working with residents from two of our watershed towns to make sure redevelopment projects are completed with improvements and protections for the Neponset River and its surrounding lands. And we’ve been successful!

In Canton, TopGolf has proposed redeveloping the old Cumberland Farms property at 777 Dedham St.

The land is significantly degraded and has been long abandoned, allowing polluted stormwater runoff to flow directly into the surrounding wetlands. This is a priority redevelopment site for the town, and a property that the Watershed Association and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation have long considered key to providing more public access to the river and surrounding wetlands.

The development team received our feedback on the original proposal with open minds and have included several requested changes, including increasing infiltration of polluted stormwater runoff. This will naturally filter some of the bacteria, phosphorous and other pollutants from the water before it reaches the wetlands which directly abut the property. It will also ensure more water recharges the groundwater, which is important for water supply.

Additionally, the property owners have redesigned the culvert guiding Pecunit Brook under the property to mimic a more natural passageway for wildlife. Finally, the owners have agreed to include a public easement around the property for the future planned extension of the Warner Trail—a hiking trail running from Cumberland, RI through Sharon. We hope that with the continued support of the Canton Walk, Bike and Hike Committee, an extension of the trail through Canton will be realized.

Update, Oct 2019 — Residents vote to protect Saint St lot.

Nearby, we’ve also been working with residents in South Norwood to ensure redevelopment of 84 Morse St. is completed responsibly. Boch Automotive received permission to redevelop the property into open car storage lots earlier this fall and will come before the Norwood Conservation Commission on December 19th.

While our initial experience was more confrontational (while trying to fight back a proposal to develop a naturally vegetated lot into more vehicle storage space), we have been working with the development team to ensure that we don’t lose the opportunity to realize water quality improvements in the Neponset River and Hawes Brook through the project. Mr. Clemmey and his team have altered their original plan to include significantly improved infrastructure proposals to treat polluted stormwater runoff from the property and have been receptive to our feedback for additional protections for the riverbank.

Redevelopment of land that has already been paved or built on, when done right, can achieve benefits for the environment. By working with residents and local officials to advocate for responsible development, we can make significant strides towards our mission to protect the river and its surrounding lands.

We thank you very much for your support, and look forward to continuing to build on our strong relationship with our communities to make sure local projects protect the watershed.

For more information, please contact Kerry Snyder, Advocacy Director at snyder@neponset.org.

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