Spraying on Allerton Road, Newton, Nov 4 2006

Nov. 4, 2006                                                       
Dear Green Decade Board,

On November 2, 2006, an Allerton Road resident whose yard runs up to the MBTA fence line called to to tell us about the recent clear cutting and herbicide application of the MBTA tracks and slopes.  It was obvious from the devastation left behind on the right-of-way slopes in Newton Highlands and near Crystal Lake and beyond, that the vegetation control is not done in a scientific, horticultural, or  public health-sensitive manner.

Apparently, areas previously protected from herbicide application no longer had protected status and advance notification to the public was limited to a single notice in the Boston Globe four months prior to the date of the herbicide spraying. The city of Newton was notified of weakened protections for waterways and wetlands in a single letter of 2000 sent to the Conservation Commissioner of Newton.

The resident, whose yard includes a compost pile and organic garden, was not notified of the spraying although, in the early 1990s, the Health Department had promised to alert her when the MBTA was going to use herbicides and her name was still on record.   

GreenCAP members are sending a letter to our legislators to request that the state initiate a public review of the MBTA vegetation management program, the quality of training and supervision of its staff and contractors, and its budget (i.e. if our tax dollars are being used properly.)  The investigation should include a review of the recent herbicide application to see if it violated the approved state vegetation management plan, and/or state laws (Rivers Protection Act, Wetland Protect Action, Citizen Right to Know, Children's and Family's Protection Act, etc.) as well as state and local safety, public health or nuisance ordinances that are supposed to protect residents from hazards to the public health and welfare, safety, and the quality of life or that causes the disruption of the peace, tranquility or safety of the immediate residential neighborhood.

She spent hours talking to MBTA officials, TEC Associates (who authored the MBTA Vegetation Management Plan), and Newton officials David Naparstek, David Cohen, and Martha Horn (without any referral by them to GreenCAP people who have been concerned about MBTA pesticide use and have met with Mayor Cohen and others in the past in repeated attempts to influence MBTA practices.)