ACAC member Michele Brooks interviews State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis
Last month one of our committee members, Michele Brooks, spoke with Ashland State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis about her work in environmental advocacy as a community organizer with the Sierra Club, and what led her to this career path. She named the Nyanza Superfund Site, and her involvement with ACAC as a motivating factor in her passion to pursue such work.
Michele is an Ashland native and has her Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and Regional Planning. She joined ACAC in the summer of 2016 after graduating college, when she became aware of development plans for the Rail Transit District (RTD), and concerned that the active blasting being done could disrupt the Nyanza cap site.
Michele is committed to working with local and federal officials and the Ashland community to see through a full remediation process of remaining contamination, and protection of the health and safety of Ashland residents. Watch her full interview on Beacon Hill Briefings here.
ACAC Member Dan Borelli on "Chasing Color"
On Thursday February 21 at 5pm at the UMass Dartmouth campus and their CVPA gallery, Dan Borelli will be showcasing his exhibition at UMass Dartmouth- Chasing Color.
For more information on his exhibit check out CVPA News.
This exhibition pulls together his 9-year artistic inquiry into Ashland and Nyanza. Dan's study into the history and impact Nyanza had on Ashland can be viewed at the Ashland Public Library. For more information on Dan and his work with Nyanza check out his Ashland-Nyanza Project.
Michael Herbert announces that Ashland has finalized the RTD land deal
In his Facebook post, Town Manager Michael Herbert announced the finalized deal between the land owner of the RTD and the Town of Ashland. Due to Michael Herbert's continued vigilance and work with ACAC, Ashland will now be able to gear the building on the site to accommodate the impact on Nyanza. Below you will find his full statement and a link to the news article.
Three years ago, as 28 acres were denuded to clear the way for almost 400 apartments on Megunko Hill, I came to the stark realization that the overall plan and zoning for the 180-acre Rail Transit District site was outdated and not reflective of the direction that Ashland wanted to go in. In addition to the 400 apartments being built, the zoning allowed almost 500 additional units of housing to be built in a configuration that was not congruent with our values of being a smart, safe and sustainable community. The existing plan at the time included townhomes spread across the entire property and at one point even a golf-course on the Nyanza cap. It was at that point that I resolved to at least give us a chance to develop a new vision for the property, one that helped us maintain a significant amount of open space, provided an economic driver for the community in the YMCA, and gave us opportunities to protect ourselves from non-friendly "40b" developments and provide affordable housing options that gave our seniors an opportunity to stay in the community that they helped build. The plan required us to purchase or at least control a very large portion of the property. This dream seemed pretty far-fetched at the time, but with the support of the Board of Selectmen and other key stakeholders, and a lot of hard work, it all culminated in a new vision for the RTD that was presented at the November 28th Town Meeting and passed overwhelmingly. I am happy to say that we now own 90 acres of the RTD, and with the purchase placed a development restriction on another 24 acres, preserving it as open space.
In addition to the YMCA, we have already started the process of incorporating this land as part of the Upper Charles Trail Network. The UCT Committee with the assistance of Asst Town Manager Jenn Ball recently submitted an application for grant funding to engineer the section of the UCT on the Rail Transit District property. Once completed this will help pave the way for construction. This trail section will bisect the property, and run through the recently restored Eastern Wetlands, which is an absolutely beautiful section of town, and lead to downtown providing another valuable link between the luxury apartments on the hill and downtown.
Thank you Ashland!
Ashland finalizes $4.8M land deal