Prevent Another Major Fire in Waltham

This petition made change with 296 supporters!

In August 2017, Waltham suffered the worst fire in the modern history of the city when five luxury apartment towers at the corner of Cooper & Elm Streets went up in flames while under construction. The developers have refused to meet with citizens while claiming that they will rebuild. The city councilor for the ward, Robert Logan, has refused to meet with us as well.

Citizens of the City of Waltham, please sign this petition asking the Waltham City Council to prevent the redevelopment of this site and to have Councilor Logan—who took donations from the developers and their attorneys in 2014—recuse himself from the vote, which he did not do when the project was first permitted by the City Council that year.

The fire at Cooper and Elm Streets was so large because the council allowed it to be overdeveloped. The subsequent fire placed the lives of first responders at risk. It placed the lives of elderly citizens who live next door at risk. It placed the lives of disabled people at risk. It placed one of the most historic structures in the Boston area at risk.

There were concerns about this development from the start, when it came before the council in 2014. As reported at the time the council fast-tracked the review process anyway, over the objections of two of their fifteen members as well as a number of expert municipal employees. The council moved so swiftly, they never even informed neighbors that they were going to vote on the project before they approved it, which is against the law. They then had to re-take the vote, and again allowed it to proceed by a wide margin.

The entire effort was led by Councilor Logan, who received donations to his campaign, but never recused himself from the vote.

The fire in August potentially spread hazardous material from the dirt below—the site was long-contaminated and there is no evidence of remediation—into the air. It caused substantial damage to the elderly housing next door. It incinerated a neighboring business. It also spewed noxious materials into the Charles River. Councilor Logan quickly took to the airwaves to denounce the method of construction, and he did interviews for the newspaper. Yet he never disclosed that his campaign accepted funds from the same builders who used that method of construction.

When constituents asked for meetings, he cancelled on them. So did the developers. When we held one anyway, he didn’t respond or come. Now, it appears that the developers wish to rebuild at the site, without having addressed any constituent concerns.

On Thursday, September 7, the executive vice president for the development company stated that they were going to proceed and rebuild exactly the same project in the same location using the same building materials in the reconstruction.

Developers should not be able to buy off our politicians with impunity. Politicians should not be able to put the citizenry at risk. That is just what they are poised to get away with all over again.

Therefore, we ask Council President Diane LeBlanc to

(1) Initiate the process to revoke the developers’ permit to use the site as previously approved, due to safety, fire apparatus-access, density, and building materials concerns.

(2) Set in motion a process to prevent the over-development of the site as previously approved.

(3) Require that Councilor Robert Logan (Ward 9) disclose all financial ties, past and present, personal and as a political candidate, to any people with a financial stake in the purchase or sale of the parcels that now comprise Cooper and Elm Street, including their representatives past or present.

(4) Require Councilor Logan to recuse himself from all future votes on any items that relate to this property, directly or indirectly.

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