Category Archives: Environmental

Thoughts on MSH as planning begins

Sarah Raposa, our Town Planner, sent out the agenda for the first meeting on Wednesday with the town’s master planning consultant, VHB, for the former Medfield State Hospital site.  As part of her email, Sarah suggested that people jot down thoughts, and below are mine:

Medfield State Hospital Site – Issues to Consider at Outset of the Planning Process

1.    Clean Slate – The past discussions and the visioning session created an interesting list of ideas, but should in no way limit options going forward.

2.    Infrastructure – lots needed, and best if developers instead of town can be made to pay

3.    Natural Resources – exist in abundance, and will continue to exist in abundance even if the town opts for a dense development

4.    Environmental – site has been mainly cleaned of known hazards, except the lead paint and asbestos in the buildings

5.    Transportation – none available – shuttle to downtown and train would be ideal

6.    Historic Resources – buildings are beautiful, but likely too far gone to be preserved

7.    Arts & Culture – it would serve the town well to spend to make such uses happen

8.    Housing – will be the economic engine of any development, and if planned well, even if dense, need not be feared in terms of municipal costs and impacts

9.    Open Space & Recreation – exist in abundance, and will continue to exist in abundance even if the town opts for a dense development

Trees save towns $

This came in today on the benefits of trees to a town, some of which are economic in ways that had not occurred to me.  For instance, one benefit is extended roadway asphalt life due to the shading and temperature control.

Medfield needs better data on all our town trees by means of an inventory, and then a thoughtful plan on where and when to plant more trees.

Also, I noticed while jogging at the former MSH site this weekend that many of the sugar maples that line the main entrance driveway that crosses the front view scape are now looking like they are beyond saving, and since they are now the town’s responsibility, we should probably cut many down and trim the rest, to reduce the safety risk and prolong the life of those we can save.  In years past someone has taped the trees for their sap to make maple syrup, which is a great synergy, especially if the sugar shack could be located in town –  Weston has one attached to its middle school and the kids help out.

Finally, the DPW was at the former MSH site this weekend taking collapsed porches off some buildings.

Below is an excerpt from the tree article –


Everyone knows trees are good for the environment – they generate oxygen, filter air pollutants and absorb rainwater during storms. A growing volume of research indicates trees are also providing perks to local transit, quality of life and property values.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, for every single street planted – at a cost of around $300 – the city will enjoy more than $90,000 in direct benefits throughout the lifetime of the tree. The research suggests adding trees to urban landscapes can bring about a significant number of benefits to the local community including:

  • Increased motorized traffic and pedestrian safety through reduced speeds
  • Creating safer walking environments
  • Increased access to green space
  • Boosted security
  • Economic growth and sustainability
  • Less drainage infrastructure
  • Protection from rain, sun and heat
  • Reduced impact of tailpipe emissions
  • Gas transformation efficiency
  • Lower urban air temperatures
  • Reduced blood pressure, improved overall emotional and psychological health
  • Added value to adjacent homes, businesses and taxes


Climate change forums



Fred Davis of Medfield and our town Energy Committee, has organized a series of forums on how we can deal with climate change, which take place on four Sundays at 11:15am at Temple Beth David in Westwood, the first of which was yesterday.  This is the email from Fred –


Hello Medfielders —
Just a reminder that the Acting on Climate Concerns workshop series begins tomorrow Sunday 11:15am at Temple Beth David in Westwood. This program is open to all, and any house of worship might benefit. I notice there are a number of members of Westwood Environmental Action Coalition attending, but no MEC members beside myself.
It’s an exciting and ambitious undertaking: our challenge is to explore actions which can achieve an 80% reduction in fossil fuel use.
There is still room for last-minute attendees, all are welcome.
— Fred Davis

Acting on Climate Concerns

Climate science is alarming; some call the potential for ecological calamity “the undoing of Creation.” Jewish values guide us to a new environmentalism informed by a need for an 80% reduction in fossil-fuel use. Such a goal is radical yet feasible with changes that are ethically just and economically sound. Coordinated by efficient-lighting expert Fred Davis, this workshop-style course will review actions we can take now to ameliorate climate change. We’ll also address exciting projects happening now. A series of top experts will advise us on three action areas of the crisis:


Jan. 11:  What is our responsibility as stewards of our congregational facility?

Jim Nail, President, Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light; also Medfield resident

Vincent Maraventano, Executive Director, Mass. Interfaith Power & Light


Jan. 25: How can we significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our individual households (assessing opportunities for energy conservation and solar)?

Rachel White, Performance Manager at Byggmeister Design/Build; also former Meah instructor, vice-chair of BuildingEnergy15 Conference of Northeast Sustainable Energy Association


Haskell Werlin, Director of Business Development and Government Relations, Solar Design Associates


Feb. 1:  What actions can we take in the greater community (carbon tax/fee, ethical investing)?

David Schreiber, David Schreiber, Progressive Asset Management Group/FWG


Rabbi Judy Weiss, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Boston Chapter Co-leader


The task is great…but we are not free to abandon it.

Course co-sponsored by Boston Jewish Climate Action Network.

Dates: 1/11, 1/25 and 2/1. 11:15 a.m.  (Optional fee for book)

All are welcome. Part of Limmud Temple Beth David, Westwood.

Simply register by emailing

Climate change video & website

Medfield’s Mike Barta has been working on the climate change issue by creating a funny video with kids quoting Congressmen and a website that lets each voter know about his or her candidates’ stated position on climate change.

This was the email from Mike –

The campaign explains itself through the two very short videos we made (2
min long). Here’s one of them

We built a web site ( <> ) that
enables a voter to type in their mailing address, see the candidates running
for the House and Senate in their district, and see the positions of those
candidates with regard to supporting climate change legislation. The
campaign asks young voters to make support for climate change legislation a
litmus test issue, and to turn out to vote in November.

Environmental Tax Reform panel 10/20

First Parish to Host Panel on Environmental Tax Reform

As part of its Monthly Monday conversation series in the parish vestry, First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Medfield will host a panel on environmental tax reform in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts bill for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, currently before the legislature, seeks to reduce carbon emissions and slow down climate change and, if passed, will also stimulate the economy and create benefits for households and businesses.


Economist and consultant Marc Breslow, Ph.D. is an expert on energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change, and government budgets and taxes.

Jessica Langerman is co-founder of Environmental Tax Reform Massachusetts. In 2012, she organized the first public forum on environmental tax reform in Massachusetts, moderated at Babson College by NPR’s Steve Curwood.

Xinghua Li, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of media studies at Babson College, where she has supervised student media projects to promote environmental tax reform.

Steven Bushnell, Ph.D. is a Climate Leader with the Climate Reality Project, and founder and CEO of the ClimateStore, a Massachusetts start-up working to build a national retail brand focused on low carbon living.

The panel will be moderated by Fritz Fleischmann, a professor of English at Babson College and chair of the Green Sanctuary Committee at First Parish, which hosts this event.

Time: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, 7:30-9:00

Place: First Parish Vestry (entrance from the parking lot behind the church), 26 North Street, Medfield.

Please come and bring your friends!

MSH clean up revving up

The clean up of the MSH C&D site along the Charles River is moving into a very active stage, here lots of teh actual construction work will be taking place.  I was just provided with a schedule issued by DCAMM’s engineers that shows huge work happening now and finishing by December.

The basic essentials of the plan is to remove the trash that had been discarded during the operation of the MSH into the wetlands next to the river for over 100 years, and to pile that wasted material on adjoining the site of the former power plant, but where it will be above the water table, and then to cap it there.  Finally, a new park and river overlook designed by Monique Allen of the Garden Continuum will be installed on top of the cap.

Invasive vine – follow up

Active citizen, Chris McCue Potts had recently focused the town on the problem of an invasive vine, and as a result of her efforts progress is being made.  Below are emails from the Superintendent and Director of the MPR, respectively.

Now just to solve the woolly adelgids confirmed by Mike Lueders (thank you Mike!) in the hemlocks by the tennis courts.


Tree Warden Hinkley will take care of bridge on Curve St.

From: “Medfield ParksandRecreation”

Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 9:23 AM

Subject: Vine Update

Hello All,

The MPR maintenance crew is out today ripping out and bagging as many vines as they can find and then spraying the roots with roundup.  The spread of the vine is all over town.  I noticed it just off they playground on Green Street, at the Pfaff Center and I am sure it has invaded private properties.  Either Ken and/or I will get the Bridge on Curve Street.

James Snyder, Director of Parks and Recreation