Re: Chrysler Apartments – Natick, Mass. EOEEA #14129
Dear Secretary Bowles:
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has reviewed the Environmental Notification Form (ENF) for the above-referenced project. The project is located adjacent to Cochituate State Park on the other side of a proposed local rail trail. The location of the proposed apartment buildings in relation to the state park will be a benefit for the new residents. The potential for access to an abutting trail corridor is also a significant amenity.
DCR is concerned about potential impacts of this project on Cochituate State Park, which is a heavily used facility located in a significantly developed area. Therefore, DCR has a number of recommendations related to protection of state park resources and also related to the abutting rail corridor:
DCR recommends that an adequate buffer should be left between the development and the rail corridor with native vegetation plantings in appropriate locations.
The property boundary should be clearly marked to deter errant vegetation removal during construction and encroachment after construction.
The rail corridor should not be used for staging of construction vehicles or equipment.
Storm water management in this part of the watershed is a significant concern for DCR, related to the water quality of Lake Cochituate and also related to ongoing flooding problems in the western fields of the park’s day use area. The ENF presents a clear explanation of the storm water management system for the project site and it appears that no runoff from the site will be allowed to reach the state park, the lake, or the potential rail trail, either directly or indirectly. Identifying a responsible party for ongoing maintenance of the proposed storm water management system is an important step to ensure long-term viability of the system. DCR suggests that the proponent might also consider sustainable building alternatives, e.g. green roofs, permeable pavement, and other options.
Considering that the state park is increasingly becoming an island of conservation and recreation land amidst a heavily developed area, DCR is concerned about the height of the proposed eleven-story apartment buildings. Related to the adjacent public amenities DCR requests that the buildings not be visible above the tree line as seen from the park’s day use area nor from Lake Cochituate. A balloon test conducted when the leaves are off would be helpful regarding DCR’s determination of potential visual impacts.
The ENF mentions the proponent having agreed in principle to contribute to the acquisition or improvement of the Cochituate Rail Trail. DCR recommends that the proponent work with the Town of Natick Recreation and Planning Departments and the Cochituate State Park Supervisor regarding support for the potential rail trail, and related to reasonable access to the trail from the apartments.
DCR does not consider exclusive access to the public lake shoreline to be a viable option for apartment residents, and we are concerned about the potential for uncontrolled access to the park from the apartment complex. DCR encourages access to the day use area and boat ramp from the Route 30 entrance under the guidelines of ongoing public access.
DCR appreciates the opportunity to comment on this proposal. If you have any questions, please contact the Cochituate State Park Supervisor Tim Murphy at (508) 653-9641, or Resource Management Planner Andy Backman at (508) 792-7715 ext. 115.