Silver Maple Forest update: Oct. 28 Committee Hearing and Policy Order

Silver_Maple_Forest_Belmont_Police.jpgTime appears to be running out for the Silver Maple Forest, a unique "urban wild" located on the border of Cambridge and Belmont between Acorn Park Drive and the Alewife Reservation.

Despite pleas from climate advocates, a developer plans to cut the trees and build a sprawling housing complex on the site. The ideal solution would be a negotiated agreement to purchase the forest for conservation, but unfortunately, the developer has been unwilling to deal, and officials have resisted efforts to leverage public funds on multiple occasions.

Right now, advocates are sounding the alarm and taking action to defend the trees. I want to commend three Cambridge residents — Ellen Mass, Joanna Herlihy, and Susan Ringler — as well as two Lesley Students  who committed an act of Civil Disobedience earlier this week.

Moving forward, a number of things are happening:

1) I have been working with my colleagues to schedule a meeting of the council's Health and Environment Committee to discuss the impact of this development on the flood plain. That meeting is now scheduled for Tuesday, October 28, at 3 pm, in the basement conference room, 831 Massachusetts Avenue. Thank you to Councillor Cheung for chairing this meeting.

2) I am also co-sponsoring an order on Monday's city council agenda to ensure that no "drainage pipes" are placed on the 2.7 acres of the forest that lie within our municipal borders. I am confident that this order will be approved, and I want to express my appreciation to Councillor McGovern in drafting the order.

3) Right now, we are awaiting word from a Middlesex Superior Court judge who will rule on a temporary injunction to stay the removal of the trees. Yesterday, the developer's attorney suggested that concerned residents ought to be "sanctioned" for questioning the legality of the project. That's just wrong.

In addition, advocates from the Friends of Alewife Reservation will once again gather at the forest to protest the development, tomorrow, from 7 to 9 am.

In conclusion, we are facing a very difficult reality with the Silver Maple Forest, but in a sense, this is really just a microcosm of where we stand in the larger effort to address the global climate crisis. Despite the odds, I will continue working to support all possible options for a positive outcome.

Photograph of police entering the forest on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, courtesy of Quinton Zondervan.

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