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Save Chesterbrook Woods

This petition had 535 supporters

We strongly oppose the use of Chesterbrook Woods as the site for a new high school.

These beautiful woods have a long history as passive recreation and conservation land. They are used by hundreds of people on a regular basis. They are also home to numerous species of plants and wild animals, whose habitats would be threatened by further fragmentation.

The woods contain vernal pools and wetlands. Disruption of the natural drainage system would have a negative impact on the neighborhood, which is already susceptible to flooding, in yards and homes as well as on Lexington Street. Further development will surely lead to more unanticipated consequences for homeowners, for commuters and for runoff into the Charles River (into which the Chester Brook drains).

Not only are the woods are zoned for conservation/recreation, but the city itself touts the acquisition of Chesterbrook Woods for open space in its City of Waltham Open Space and Recreation Plan, 2015-2022 (p. 7).

Although we are of course concerned for the educational welfare of the city’s children, we are also deeply concerned for the long-term environmental impact the loss of these acres will have on them and future generations. We share with you some “forest facts” from American Forests, a conservation organization:

  • On average, a mature tree can absorb 36 percent of the rainfall it comes in contact with.
  • Forests reduce storm water runoff and flooding.
  • Forests help improve water quality by extracting pollutants through tree roots.
  • In one day, one large tree can absorb up to 100 gallons of water and release it into the air, cooling the surrounding area.
  • In one year, an acre of forest can absorb twice the carbon dioxide produced by the average car’s annual mileage.
  • Deforestation accounts for up to 15 percent of global emissions of heat-trapping gases.
  • Forests improve public health by keeping pollutants out of our lungs by trapping and removing dust, ash, pollen and smoke.
  • In neighborhoods with more tree canopy cover, air quality improves by as much as 15 percent.
  • For every 30 meters of trees, noise pollution is reduced by up to 50 percent.

Waltham was recently named the 13th best place to live in the United States. One of the factors considered was green spaces. Waltham has been wise to set aside green space—especially green space that can be shared by humans and animals and can be enjoyed in its natural state. Few cities in the area have been so prescient. Let us maintain Waltham’s reputation as a great place to live on all fronts and remember that the decision to protect and preserve this natural woodland habitat will have a positive impact for our children, grandchildren and the many generations thereafter.

In closing, we reiterate: these woods have stood for many years—they cannot simply be cut down without repercussion. Nor can the decision be reversed once the trees are felled. We urge you not to make the decision to destroy this important natural place.

Thank you for your consideration.

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