Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winter scenes of Framingham roads and places

Gleason Pond as seen from Prindiville Avenue (courtesy Nicola Cataldo)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Open Meeting Law and withholding Public Records

 The following is a letter posted on FramGov on November 30, 2014 by Town Meeting Member, Jeff Cox.

Greetings Framingham:

I am not a lawyer, but I am interested if the Framingham Board of Selectman may have violated the Open Meeting Law.

      --I have reviewed the minutes of the Board of Selectman meetings  ( and noticed that none of the Executive Session minutes have never been posted. I reviewed that the recent controversy in Wayland over publishing of all meeting minutes, as redacted, and noticed that they needed to be published. Is it every appropriate to publish executive sessions? When?

     --I cannot find the meeting that the Board of Selectman approved the proposal of the potential selling of Town Hall published. Where is the motion or resolution?

     --Were the conversation regarding potential selling of town property referred to any town committee or Board of Selectman committee? If not referred, were there private emails or conversations about the potential selling of this property that may be in violation of the Open Meeting Law? How can the potential selling of the Town Hall and other significant meetings be approved without substantial public conversation? If the Open Meeting were potentially violated, would the approved vote be invalid?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Abutters abuse Town-owned Property and Wetlands at 596 Waverly Street

The Town of Framingham owns Cedar Swamp parcels and two parcels to Waverly Street. Since 2008, Pao Brasil Bakery at 596 Waverly Street has taken "possession" of the town land called "9999 Waverly Street" as if they owned the land.

Click on photo to enlarge
Click on photo to enlarge

Click on photo to enlarge
Unregistered bakery truck in wetlands area of Cedar Woods. Photo taken October 17, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

350 Irving Street - facts you need to know about the property

Opinions by Howard Garshman

     1. The 20-acre site at 300-350 Irving Street is highly contaminated with COAL TAR. It is an extraordinarily ultra hazardous carcinogen.
     2. In 2008, Northeast Utilities purchased the property. The company promised the Town of Framingham, as a condition of the purchase, to clean up, remediate, and develop the entire property by 2010. They have not done what they agreed to do.!
     3. To date, Northeast Utilities only mitigated a TEMPORARILY SOLUTION at a 2 acre site of wetlands for CYANIDE.
     5. The 20 acre property is contaminated in the ground water, surface water and soil with COAL TAR. COAL TAR CREOSOTE is both a man made carcinogenic materials as well as high concentration of Arsenic and Cyanide. There are areas where the COAL TAR bubbles up through the ground.
     6. Landscape Depot, Inc. brings on to the property demolition materials, wood debris, and grass clippings from industrial, commercial, and residential properties. Dirt that is untested and has non-organic items mixed in with it such as plastic, china, glass, wood.
     7. Landscape Depot, Inc allows all these materials to fester upon and soak up the contaminates on the property.
     8. Landscape Depot, Inc mixes all these materials, grinds them, composts them on the toxic property and sells these products as Kids Safe Mulch, Pure Mulch and Organic Compost. NONE OF THESE IS TRUE, all is contaminated.
     9. The businesses at Landscape Depot Inc are not licensed, permitted or zoned for this use. The business has allowed these operations to continue to do so for 14 years. 
     10. Northeast Utilities is 100% aware of what Landscape Depot, Inc is doing and selling and has been aware for 6 years and also is aware Landscape Depot Inc is in violation and poisoning the public.


Although I have associates involved with me, I have filed a Civil Suit and do not need nor do I seek anyone’s assistance.

We are not going to champion the cause. Our sole goal is to make sure the 1000’s of people affected know the truth, have access to the evidence and do as they feel appropriate. WE WILL BACK UP ALL EVIDENCE AND STATEMENTS.

BOTTOM LINE: Together, Northeast Utilities and Landscape Depot, Inc are running illegal, poisonous and humanly toxic business on a highly toxic and carcinogenic 20-acre site in Framingham, jointly poising children, men, and women . They have been misled and lied to Framingham while knowing exactly what they were doing… SAVING THEIR SHAREHOLDERS 100’s of millions of dollars in clean up costs and correcting the harm to 1000’s of unsuspecting humans.



                                                               Howard Garshman –

Thursday, October 9, 2014

300-350 Irving Street: a continuing contaminated site. Is everyone looking the other way?

Information provided by Howard Garshman


From 1880-1967, Northeast Utilities operated a Manufactured Gas Plant on the Irving Street Property.

From 1967–1982, the plant apparently was demolished and the property was mostly paved to resemble a parking lot.

In 1982, a private individual, Mr. John Glynn (deceased), purchased the property for a symbolic $1,000.00 at which time he deeded the parcel to the 350 Irving Street Trust.

In 2004, having not paid the taxes on the property and accumulating nearly $2M in arrears on the property, the Town of Framingham publicly avowed the property was hazardous and not a property the town wanted to own for taxes, began negotiations with 350 Irving Street, LLC a company formed by the owner of the major tenant on the property. These negotiations were for 350 Irving Street, LLC to obtain the property via a tax abatement scheme in return to remediate the property under a Brownfields Authority.   

"300 Irving Street" an almost 19 acre parcel owned by Northeast Utilities (NStar).
Yellow line indicates the MWRA Sudbury Aqueduct dividing the property.
In 2007 after 3 years of negotiating with the town and after garnering the approval of the scheme by the town, the town fathers, only moments before signing the papers, Northeast Utilities for yet unknown reasons, came forward and offered to purchase the property they had sold 26 years earlier for $1,000.00 , Northeast Utilities offered The Town of Framingham a cash payment of $2M as part of the offer Northeast Utilities agreed to appease 350 Irving Street, LLC by partnering with 350 Irving Street, LLC to manage the property, then develop the property once Northeast Utilities remediated the property, at Northeast’s expense hopefully by 2010.
Aerial view of Landscape Depot (from Google Maps 2007)

Stone and debris in work area on top of MWRA Aqueduct land. The runoff from the upper undocumented
materials, mulch and salt chemicals drain from on top of the property runs through the
covered materials and leaches into the ground and MWRA wet property.
The town accepted Northeast’s proposal as presented, subject to approval by the Attorney General’s approval, according to town records the town did so based on their ability to oversee the remediation, the increase of debt returned to town coffers and Northeast agreeing to appease 350 Irving Street, LLC by making 350 Irving Street, LLC the manager and a partners in the future development.
In 2008, the approvals were obtained and Northeast Utilities paid the $2M in August 2008, as of this summary the property is in use, yet neither the Brownfields remediation or the development have taken place.

At this time, the extraordinarily hazardous property is in use daily by various tenants, one tenant in particular is operating numerous unpermitted, unlicensed unmonitored operations that are causing hazmat releases, adding hazmat to the property as well 247 River Road West, Berlin, poising the unsuspecting public. All with knowledge and approval of Northeast Utilities.

Landscape Depot is a tenant of Northeast Utilities. The landscape company is operating without oversight, licensing, permits or any required authority from numerous Framingham departments. There are no approvals, required permits or licenses from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other state departments.

The mountainous mulch piles on the property tend to ignite and smolder, sometimes for days, causing smoke to cover the surrounding area. This smoke is unmonitored for air quality and toxins, our understanding is that many of the toxins found on the property and in the wood and demolitions debris should be detectable in the smoke, smoke that residents are breathing.
Upper right near loading dock are concrete, stone pavement bricks dumped for recycling.

Prior to 1967, Northeast Utilities hired private contractors to remove the extraordinarily hazardous (EPA) Coal Tar, Coal Tar Creosote, Cyanide and Arsenic from the Manufactured Gas Plant furnaces and bury it off site in the Framingham area. One very close site is on 21 Beaver Court and Beaver Street, which abuts the now closed for environmental hazardous NEW Mary Dennison Municipal Park.

It was discovered that the un-remediated property is sitting on natural peat (a natural dry source historically used as heating and fire source). The property has lagoons full of Coal Tar, Cyanide, and Spent Oxide. To date only a small wetlands area has been addressed by Northeast Utilities and that was to keep Cyanide from continuing its migration into the wetlands. In other words, Northeast is keeping the Cyanide on the property that they are renting out and the flammable hazardous coal tar and benzene materials are sitting on a giant wick!

Piles of wood and debris, trees stumps stockpiled for grinding into EnviroMulch, close-up of concrete and brick debris.
Commercial Landscaper dumping grass and leaves. Note large illegal stump dump in background. Stumps will be made into EnviroMulch, all sitting on contaminated soil, and in contaminated ground and surface water.
Other business on land leased by Landscape Depot.
Other business on parcel.
Perdoni Brothers trucks in large amounts of undocumented soil and dirt that is mixed onsite and sold as loam and organic compost.
Other business on parcel.
Click on photo to enlarge

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Sudbury Aqueduct continues from Farm Pond down through Southside ... and beyond

The main conduit of the Sudbury system is the Sudbury Aqueduct. Constructed between 1875 and 1878, the Sudbury Aqueduct was in use for almost 100 years. On February 13, 1878, following just 2.5 years of construction, the gates at Farm Pond were opened, unleashing the first flow from the Sudbury River to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir from where it was distributed to the city of Boston. By 1880 the system of reservoirs along the Sudbury was fully operational.

Construction of the Sudbury Aqueduct 1875-1878

The aqueduct consists primarily of a horseshoe-shaped brick lining that is 8.5 feet (2.6 m) in diameter and 7.667 feet (2.337 m) high. The bricks are set in concrete atop a foundation of concrete and stone rubble. The aqueduct is covered by an arch built of brick. Note the intensive manual work installing bricks to line the conduit.

The conduit was designed to slope downward at 1 foot per mile southeasterly from Farm Pond into Sherborn, easterly to Natick, Wellesley, Needham and finally to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir near Cleveland Circle in Brookline. The aqueduct was designed to carry water from the watershed of the Sudbury River to Boston and its surrounding communities. The system was designed to transmit 80 million gallons in 24 hours—a factor of two more than the source was to provide—to allow for future needs.

Route of the Sudbury Aqueduct from South Framingham to Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Boston

The Gate Houses

At a number of places along the aqueduct are small buildings built to house control equipment of various sorts. These include a gate house at Farm Pond (abandoned after a channel was constructed feeding the aqueduct from Framingham Reservoir #1 due to poor water quality at Farm Pond), a metering house in southeastern Framingham, and control houses over weirs where the aqueduct crosses over other bodies of water. These control points allow water from the aqueduct to be diverted into the watersheds it crosses.

Partial Aqueduct route from Cedar and Waverly Streets to Irving and Herbert Streets.
The Aqueduct trail continues from this point to Leland Street and into Sherborn.

The Sudbury Aqueduct was taken out of regular service in 1978 and now forms part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's emergency backup system. Some of the open space along this historic aqueduct is available for public access. In January 1990, the route, buildings and structures associated with the aqueduct were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Looking northward at the Sudbury Aqueduct from Leland Street. Opening the aqueduct route would provide area residents a pleasant walking path to downtown Framingham.
Gate House at Leland Street
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)

The MWRA was created in 1985 and assumed sewage and wastewater treatment functions from the former MDC (Metropolitan District Commission), now the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation), which still maintains the watershed lands.

Guidlines for Public Access to Commonwealth Lands under the Care and Control of MWRA.

While under the care and control of MWRA, the goal is to protect and preserve existing lands for water supply purposes. MWRA recognizes the importance of enhancing public access and public involvement in its facilities as a means of improving its own performance in facilities maintenance and building support from its ratepayers.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cedar Woods Walking Trail in Southside

Concept for Cedar Woods Walking Trails from Cypress Street to Waverly Street.
A project of the Conservation Commission.

     Cedar Woods (aka Cedar Swamp) is a 16 acre wetland located between Waverly Street and Cypress Street.  It is graced with streams, majestic deciduous and evergreen trees, ferns, Concord grapes, hydrangeas and lush moss.  It is a natural habitat for numerous birds including wild turkeys.  Deer have been sighted over the years.
    This summer the Framingham Conservation Department worked diligently with the DPW to bring this great natural resource back to the Southside. They made an exhaustive start by cleaning a vast amount of debris from this conservation land, followed by clearing and evaluating potential walking paths. They are to be complimented for their exemplary service to Framingham’s residents.
    Future plans will include extending the walking paths from Cedar Woods north to Farm Pond and south to Waushakum Beach.
    We look forward to its full restoration.

Large hydrangea along the path. Most likely a gardener had dumped scrap cuttings in the wetlands long ago.
Judith Grove, Precinct 15 Chair, at very old Willow tree. Trunk is approximately five feet in diameter.
Abandoned truck and other stored vehicles on Town-owned wetlands area near Waverly Street.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sudbury Aqueduct: encroachment, contamination and misuse

Sudbury Aqueduct at Waverly and Cedar Streets

Orlando commuter parking lot on Sudbury Aqueduct and CSX properties

Area of MWRA land at 133 Hollis Street

Sudbury Aqueduct at 300 Irving Street

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Framingham's Gilbert Street turns around

By James H. Burnett III, Boston Sunday Globe, July 27, 2014

In late 2008, the Boston Globe examined a single block in a residential neighborhood near Waushakum Pond in Framingham that was especially hard hit by the housing and foreclosure crisis. We’ve recently revisited that block, which has bounced back, and offer the observations of residents, real estate experts, and municipal officials about what has fueled its recovery.

That “time heals all wounds” was originally a phrase in English literature about emotional rebuilding. But when Jeff Sjoberg says it of his tree-lined block on Gilbert Street near Waushakum Pond, he’s talking economic healing.

Sjoberg’s quiet street between Winthrop Street and Nipmuc Road is the very picture of real estate-related economic recovery, with every one of the 38 single-family homes and multiple-family rental properties on the block occupied, kept up, and all apparently in good standing with lenders and the town.

Jeff and Kate Sjoberg, outside their home at 11 Gilbert St. in Framingham, have played a role in the neighborhood’s rebound.

Just a few years ago that wasn’t the case.

In 2007, four properties — 11 Gilbert St., now owned by the Sjobergs; 25 Gilbert; 37-39 Gilbert; and 64 Gilbert — on this particular strip were headed for foreclosure, along with 945 other residential buildings in Framingham, representing roughly 1.3 percent of the town’s housing stock, and causing some real estate experts to declare the block a microcosmic example of the housing crash that was sweeping some area communities and many sections of the nation.

The back of 37-39 Gilbert St. in Framingham in 2008 after foreclosure. A neighbor said the construction on the back was illegally done, without proper permits

The porch of 37-39 Gilbert St. in 2008. The property was left abandoned for several years. Front windows had fallen in, house was unlocked, interior walls and ceilings were exposed to the studs. Parts of the floors were removed and open to lower floors. Numerous hazards jeopardized the safety of people entering the building such as the Framingham Fire Department.

The crash came so fast and forcefully that in 2008, Framingham’s Inspectional Services Department began more closely monitoring struggling properties to keep tabs on those at risk of falling into default and then foreclosure; 185 properties made the watch list that year.

Fast-forward to 2012, and the number of properties subject to foreclosure activity — including foreclosure petitions, auctions, and deeds — had fallen to 186, representing just 0.11 percent of the town’s housing stock.

Today, the Inspectional Services Department reports that 32 properties are on its watch list.

Town Manager Robert J. Halpin said part of the comeback is due to aggressive code enforcement that has improved property conditions across Framingham, but particularly in middle-class neighborhoods like the area around Gilbert Street.

“We also attribute the stabilization of housing values to the economic growth of Framingham and the MetroWest region,” Halpin said. “MetroWest continues to grow and attract a highly educated and skilled workforce due to the abundance of cutting-edge employers migrating to the region. Our neighborhoods are experiencing increased housing values and building permit applications for renovations, so it is fair to say that Framingham has successfully weathered the foreclosure crisis.”

Enter the Sjobergs.

“We had been looking carefully,” Jeff Sjoberg, 31 and a recent graduate of nursing school, said. “We wanted to remain in MetroWest, because we like the area, even though people assume that if you’re young you’re supposed to live in Boston proper. But we liked the feel of the region, and just needed somewhere where we could belong.”

The couple got their house for a steal — paying $162,000 to the bank that had foreclosed on it, compared with the $379,000 it had sold for in 2005 — and began fixing it up right away. They say, a bit sheepishly, that renovations are ongoing.

“We’ve done the work ourselves, going from room to room, and stripping out wallpaper, ripping out old carpet, and repairing the old hardwood, and that can take time,” said Kate, 29, who majored in historic preservation at the University of Mary Washington in Maryland.

Kate Sjoberg paints kitchen cabinets in her cellar. They have been rehabbing the house room by room, and have discovered original flourishes like hand-carved crown moldings and baseboards.

“We had already agreed that a fixer-upper was the way to go, because old homes like this have character and they don’t look like every other house on the block, as is the case with some of your newer, cookie-cutter subdivisions,” she said.

The Sjobergs had their hands full, however, after learning that their new house had been divided into three small apartments. But as they stripped away walls and removed other add-on accents, they discovered distinctive original flourishes like hand-carved crown moulding and baseboards.

“These are the kinds of things that make you embrace a home as your own,” Kate said. “Plus it made us feel invested in the block.”

The Sjoberg house at 11 Gilbert St. in Framingham.

It’s a block, Jeff Sjoberg said, that was quiet when he and Kate moved in, and today is bustling with children playing, lawn mowers roaring on Saturday mornings, and neighbors gathering at their backyard fence line to barbecue together and shoot the breeze after work.

“It’s night and day,” he said. “People didn’t talk to one another. Now it’s friendly.”

Didier Lopez, a longtime Framingham resident and RE/MAX realtor, recalls trying to sell another property on Gilbert Street in 2008.

“It was extremely difficult then. That home was about to be foreclosed on, and things were not looking good for the area,” Lopez said. “There was fear. Today it’s been replaced with investment, but it’s not just people investing to buy these homes. It’s a certain kind of person who is willing to buy, live here, and be involved — old fashioned, traditional, but a little modern too.”

Lopez, who said sales have picked up for him over the past three years, said many of his new clients, like the Sjobergs, are in their 20s and 30s.

“It’s all a domino effect,” he said. “Every time someone invests money or time it’s good for the overall economy in the region. But I’m seeing a lot more young professionals coming from the city. The big tech jobs are out here. And my job is easier because in addition to available housing, I can now tell young people that there are things to do.”

Lopez said when he’s showing houses these days, especially if his clients are young, he drives them around to show how many restaurants have sprung up on Route 9 in Framingham, how close they are to the Natick Mall and movie theaters, how many different ethnicities and cultures they’ll see in neighborhoods, how quickly they can drive from the heart of Framingham to the on-ramps to interstate highways.

“I said domino effect, right? Well, there wouldn’t be those things to do if real estate had not come back. That’s what I mean by one helps the other,” Lopez said.

Gilbert Street’s comeback isn’t all about a youth revival, though. Lopez also said long-term residents also helped move the recovery along.

Since 2008, the four homes at 88, 92, 96, 104 Gilbert Street were purchased by young couples with children.

78 Gilbert Street

“We needed the young people, the energy, the fresh faces,” Lopez said. “But neighborhoods like this needed the stability too, like home owners who didn’t run away when things were bad.”

George Lewis, 70, has lived at 78 Gilbert for more than 14 years. In 2008, the well known artist told the Globe that he was nervous about the foreclosures on his street, and what they meant to public safety and his ability to sell, should he ever decide to move. “It’s a different place today,” Lewis said. “All it took was a little time and people who wanted to be here.”

Click here to read the Globe article on December 18, 2008