Details here: https://goo.gl/1HleSW. Image below.
Here’s the re-cap:
The Town of Westwood has pushed, encouraged, supported, and, some might say, rushed and railroaded through the development of a major shopping mall on its southern edge, the University Station project. This property, near a former industrial site, is also within the Neponset River watershed (see https://www.neponset.org/your-watershed/natural-history/). Indeed, the Neponset River is close by. There are also wells which supply the Dedham-Westwood water close by.
The Neposet River Watershed Association submitted comments on the project (see https://goo.gl/0L8tAL) which were parried by the engineers for the shopping mall developer without intercession by the Town’s Conservation Commission or its Board of Selectmen. Not addressed in that exchange, as worthwhile as the NRWA’s critique was, were the choices these engineers made to estimate local precipitation . Those choices calibrate University Station’s ability to deal with runoff, according to prevalent stormwater regulations, at the 0.90 quantile of daily precipitation between 2000-2009 at the local Norwood Airport. That baseline would exclude, for instance, the 3 inch rainfaill in 24 hours which flooded sections of Westwood, a circumstance which would flush car fluids and other contaminants into the Neponset watershed, overwhelming the design of the Station’s drainage system (see https://goo.gl/4WNuOf and https://goo.gl/SaUznn and https://goo.gl/cjtnuS).
Furthermore, the Town had a Superior court order in hand demanding restoration of 25,000 square feet of wetlands because it impacted an area of that size when it built facilities for its high school. Records and memory of those who have lived here as publicly available do not show where this 25,000 square feet has been restored. The University Station area, proximate to the Neponset, would have been a perfect opportunity to return these 25,000 square feet to wetland in addition to buffering the effects of the Station, were it to be built, as it now has been.
Furthermore, the Town did not consider installation a large array of community solar on the same property, or requiring such of the developer of the Station or its tenants, especially on their roofs. They could have put solar canopies on a portion of the parking area. There are even ways of putting solar in the parking lots themselves, which have the advantage of keeping them automatically clear of snow and ice.
For all these reasons, University Station is an environmental blight, a paen to continued unbridled development in Westwood and elsewhere. And these actions completely ignore the future, with the prospect of torrential downpours being exacerbated by climate disruption and change due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s worth boycotting University Station. I am, whether for shopping (preferring Roche Brothers), or social engagements. (I won’t attend if they are there.)
By the way, each of the above are documents from the public record at the Town of Westwood site, at least as of 19 May 2015. Screenshots of links to some of these documents are:
And the links themselves are:
You’ll find plenty of engineering discussion and response on those pages pertaining to runoff and stormwater. But, as in any engineering, the designs are only as good as the assumptions made. The key one here, to iterate, is daily precipitation at the 0.90 quantile of the amounts seen 2000-2009 in Norwood. Alternatively, the MAXIMUM seen during that period might be advisable, since the point is to contain the worst case runoff, or, better, the MAXIMUM PROJECTED precipitation over the lifetime of the structures. But they did not. No doubt, as you’ll see if you read the documents, there are loopholes in MassDEP regulations to permit such. Whether or not it is environmentally wise is my question, and the reason I recommend the boycott.
I’ll address the risks incurred by failing to use the expected extremes in daily precipitation some day in a post at my blog (https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com) in conjunction with data from Norwood, and data from the Town of Sharon. However, it doesn’t take much to see what I’m getting at. Here’s the history of rain events bigger than 2.5 inches in a midnight-to-midnight day from May 2000 until May 2015, recorded at Norwood Airport (KOWD) which is where the University Station engineers chose their data:
EDT Precipitation (in) Events
2000-12-17 2.63 Rain-Thunderstorm
2001-3-22 2.86 Rain
2001-6-17 3.12 Fog-Rain-Thunderstorm
2004-4-1 2.61 Rain
2005-5-25 2.57 Rain
2005-10-15 4.60 Rain
2006-6-7 3.17 Rain
2008-2-13 2.71 Fog-Rain-Snow
2008-7-24 2.53 Fog-Rain-Thunderstorm
2010-3-14 3.09 Rain
2013-6-7 3.02 Rain
2014-10-23 2.58 Rain-Thunderstorm
2014-12-9 2.54 Rain
There are 13 of these. So, on average, assuming these are Poisson events, one of these occurs about once every 15 months.
Much of the advertising for University Station emphasizes both its beauty, and the beautification of its customers. Well, I want to show you to, stark and real. In a lush, green landscape, dominated by the Neponset River, all University Station looks like is a wholly unnatural scar, an additional insult to the organic earthy Massachusetts plain, after the piercing by Route 128. I saw trees being cut today, trees which blocked the view of this unholy temple to unbridled consumption from the train station, trees cut and discarded as if they were irrelevant. That, folks, is the spirit of University Station.
Update 30th July 2015
The acclaim for the apartments advertised for University Station is barely a whisper. Why would anyone want to live there?
Update 22nd January 2016
Update 24th July 2016