On Friday, June 14th I attended the Silver Maple Forest Day of Action, a peaceful gathering organized by Green Cambridge, TROMP, and Friends of Alewife Reservation to protest cutting down the Silver Maple Forest in the Belmont Uplands adjoining the Alewife Reservation. Cutting down this forest would be required to build new condominiums that are part of the proposed development plan for this area.
While we need to focus on planning for density in and near Cambridge, we must do so with the intent to create sustainable systems, and to build a city that can thrive well into the future. By sustainable, I mean a city that preserves critical aspects of Cambridge that are unique and special, while also accounting for elements that must change.
Sustainability means building and planning with the natural environment in mind, and with respect to neighborhoods, businesses, and universities. When I look at an issue like the development of our precious, few remaining acres of wetlands, I am appalled.
How can we be so short-sighted? We are living in a world, a city, and a context that demands leadership that will fight to preserve our precious remaining open spaces. We are living in a world that demands innovative leadership, not the status quo. Instead of destroying this forest, we need to think creatively about how to design for the future, and how to build housing in places that can accommodate new development with the least hazardous impact. Razing a beautiful and rare space such as the Silver Maple Forest and uprooting a rich wildlife corridor that runs through Cambridge, Belmont, and Arlington is simply unacceptable.
The forest and wetlands are extremely important in the age of climate change, as they absorb water runoff after storms and flooding. As we are seeing greater increases in rainfall and more destructive storms, it is crucial to preserve this important open space that acts as a natural sponge and mitigates the effects of these storms.
The citizen-based Belmont Coalition and the Friends of Alewife Reservation are both plaintiffs in an active lawsuit to stop this development, and their continuous appeals have kept the forest intact so far. But time is running out. I urge you to contact your city councilors, town selectman and state legislators directly, and to ask them to stop this development from happening.
This is not the time for complacency. Please make your voices heard.
Kristen von Hoffmann
Candidate for Cambridge City Council