July 2, 2002  Meeting Notes

In attendance:   Chick Abbott, Ralph Elwell, Brian Hasbrouck, Jane Howard, Elizabeth Karpati, Ann LeRoyer, Leslie Mayer, David White. The meeting was facilitated by Leslie Mayer. The minutes are by Elizabeth Karpati. 

Next Meetings (all tentative): Wed., Aug. 28 or Tues., Sept. 2 (time & place TBA)

Canada Geese Problem:
Jon Jalbert proposes a temporary fence on the berm to keep geese out of the swimming area. DPW has some snow fencing that could be used. A fence is unlikely to stop geese unless they have goslings that can’t fly yet, but there is no harm in trying it. 
Jon Jalbert reports that a rented border collie which patrolled the area for nine days chased away 15 of 35 geese. (How permanently??)
There are no data on the effect of geese on use of the beach. Word of mouth is that it is a messy place for swimming, but a lot of people are using it now anyway because of the hot weather.

Feedback to Rich Bento on draft letter to Selectmen and the Weston & Sampson proposals:
The draft letter was discussed at length. The committee was generally in favor but agreed that it needed a “preamble” or statement of purpose and made a number of specific suggestions. Leslie collected these and agreed to revise the draft. 
Leslie also agreed to summarize for Rich Bento our comments on and concerns about the proposals from Weston & Sampson.
Both of these documents are included below. (Items that appeared in red in Leslie’s original are enclosed in asterisks ***** to be distinguishable in e-mail.)

***** (With edits and comments from the Arlington Reservoir Committee)*****

DATE: June 13, 2002
TO: Board of Selectmen
FROM: Philip J. Farrington, Town Manager
SUBJECT: Arlington Reservoir, Mill Brook
This spring Arlington’s Town Meeting endorsed a set of goals for the Arlington Reservoir and its role within the Mystic River Watershed. 
These goals acknowledge that the Reservoir is a valued community resource and that all of the area’s uses must be protected and a balance achieved when making decisions or taking action in and around the Arlington Reservoir. It is with these goals in mind and the holistic approach to decision-making they engender that the following is offered for your consideration:

A. Arlington Reservoir Dam Repair
Following a dam inspection report by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) that outlined structural deficiencies, our Public Works Department initiated a study of existing conditions at the Reservoir Dam.
This study was to develop preliminary plans and cost estimates to repair the structural deficiencies and extend the effective life of this important facility. The dam is approximately one hundred thirty (130) years old and only minor improvements have been made in that time.
The letter report from Weston & Sampson, dated November 2, 2001, is attached as Exhibit A.
The estimated cost to comply with DEM’s requirements alone is approximately 1.78 million to 2.16 million in current dollars. This amount does not include remediation of the stump dump, landscaping restoration or any repair work to the swimming area berm.
The design and permitting will be a lengthy process. Planning now before a crisis arises allows for community participation and debate on decisions that could stand for the next one hundred years. The construction portion of this project is in the Capital Plan for FY04 through FY06.
The Reservoir is a valuable open space / recreational facility, and it has an important role as a flood control facility to store run-off from heavy storms, thereby helping to mitigate flooding along Mill Brook in Arlington. As we learned in the spring of 2001, the dam still works very well. But we also know that heavy rainfall in a short period of time still results in flooding along Mill Brook. Even though the dam works to reduce flooding, there are other sources of water draining into Mill Brook, besides the Reservoir, and these alone can cause flooding.  Complicating the overall solution for the repair work, some of the total watershed area to Mill Brook is outside our town boundaries.

B. Mill Brook Hydrologic Study
In addition to dealing with the flow from the Reservoir, in order to deal effectively with flood control for the watershed we also need to identify permittable, affordable and effective improvements in Mill Brook. 
Studies on Mill Brook have been completed in the past, and we have all had many conversations on what could / could not be done. Permitting and construction of hydraulic improvements will be difficult due to environmental and financial issues. Some solutions proposed in the past may not be permittable today. So, we must explore our available options in the current climate.
A study is proposed that would review the existing documents, develop and perform hydrological modeling and produce a prioritized list of permittable and feasible improvements. This is a multi-phased study, which is detailed in Attachment B, estimated at $184, 925.
Source of funding for this study is ***** …... (Rich Bento to fill in blank) *****

C. Other Options for the Reservoir
In the course of discussing improvements to the dam, some interest was expressed in examining the option of discontinuing the use of the dam as a flood control structure and focusing on the downstream flooding solutions, which would eliminate the need for dam repair and vegetation removal. Weston and Sampson was asked to prepare a scope of work to study this idea, which has been submitted to the Town for review. This study would cost at least $30,000, perhaps as much as $135,000. The proposal to do this work is included as Attachment C.
My opinion is that we do not need a study to tell us that eliminating the flood storage in the Reservoir will adversely affect the capacity of Mill Brook during most storms. Mill Brook already floods under certain conditions. Eliminating the dam will only worsen conditions during flood
events. A study would tell us how much additional flow would be added.  This might be useful information if the costs to determine that amount and to offset the extra flooding were not significant and the resolution of downstream flooding issues was not so complex.

D. Recommendations
I propose that the Town needs to consider Arlington Reservoir, Mill Brook and Sickle Brook as one flood control project and perform the following tasks.
1. Prepare final plans and contract documents to improve the dam, as described in the report prepared by GZA Geoenvironmental and as summarized in Weston & Sampson’s report of November 2, 2001, making sure that trees are removed only where truly necessary for dam safety. The summary is included as Attachment A.
2. Perform a hydraulic model and analysis of the watershed and prepare preliminary plans and cost estimates to improve Mill Brook, assuming the current dam remains in place. These improvements will be permittable and practical. The proposal to do this work is included as Attachment B. 
***** (Note: Do the following two paragraphs express thoughts related to the Mill Brook study only? Or to both preceding recommendations? If both then indenting should be removed. This was a bit confusing to a few members of the committee.) *****
This, I am sure, will be a major undertaking and a very expensive project to complete. We will investigate any and all potential funding sources to accomplish the work. Once that is done, we could determine the incremental cost to do whatever additional work is needed in Mill Brook
if dam capacity is reduced or eliminated in the future. In short, before we calculate the additional level of effort needed to safeguard property along Mill Brook, we need to know the level of effort
necessary to stop existing causes of flooding.

DATE: July 8, 2002
TO: Rich Bento
CC: Philip J. Farrington
FROM: Arlington Reservoir Committee
SUBJECT: Arlington Reservoir, Mill Brook Working Documents Feedback

The Reservoir Committee met on Tuesday evening, July 2nd to review the working documents that you requested our input on. We would like to thank you and Phil Farrington for the opportunity to review the information and provide feedback. We are all very appreciative of being included in the process and hope that this open and inclusive working relationship continues as the process moves forward. Our feedback on the documents and project is as follows:
In general, the committee is very positive and supportive about expanding the flood control focus to include the hydrologic study of Mill Brook. We believe that this is an essential component in the flood control strategy for the area.
A great deal of time at the meeting was spent reviewing the memo to the Board of Selectmen. An edited version is attached as Farrington Memo edits.doc and includes all of the committee input on this document.
In keeping with our strong belief that solutions proposed in the Reservoir area must consider all uses, we have significant concerns about moving forward on the dam repair project without adequate plans and funding for landscaping and other open space / recreation restoration work. In reading through Attachment A, we are concerned that the primary “focus on controlling costs” and some of the statements suggesting the elimination or reduction of work that is “not a dam safety issue” will result in an unsatisfactory outcome for the community – after having expended significant town funds. We adamantly urge that these aspects of the project be clearly and specifically addressed as part of the recommendation to the Selectmen.
It has been suggested that perhaps the consultant costs for the additional studies (summarized in Attachment B & C) are very high. The recommendation was made to perhaps consider obtaining a competitive bid from another engineering firm with expertise in this field.
Other specific questions / concerns related to the Reservoir Dam Repair Work: 
1) Do we know if DEM would allow us to keep the trees on the dam if the size of the emergency spillway is increased, the gate removed and the water level kept low? 
2) Do we first need to know the downstream impact of increasing the size of the emergency spillway, as recommended, in order to know how to control the dam to minimize flooding? 
3) Do we also need to know how much water is held back by the Reservoir storage capacity and the impact on Mill Brook capacity when the water goes over the emergency spillway during such a storm to quantify what the adverse effect on flood conditions downstream will be?
With regard to the Mill Brook Hydrologic Study, the following questions / concerns were raised: 
1) The 5/6/02 W&S document states that the model will be used to assess hydraulic improvements to control flood elevations to no higher than the flood elevations in the FIS. Does that mean we take as a given that we cannot reduce flooding below the FIS flood elevations? If so, why is that? 
2) Will the study afford the opportunity to provide input on increasing the capacity of the flow (size and location of swale) behind the high school? It would seem that this should be done before either a field house or hockey rink is built. 
3) Will the study evaluate how to reduce storm flows that enter Mill Brook downstream of the dam? Those flows make up a large percentage of the storm water in Mill Brook. What about evaluating things such as detention basins, swales, and infiltration chambers downstream of the dam
to capture flows that would otherwise go to the Brook? What about requiring the removal of impervious surface during reconstruction and preventing more impervious surface? (In that regard, there is concern about how any proposed plan for the Symmes property may increase flow to
Mill Brook. The report should include a study and recommendation about that.)

If you have any questions about the comments / edits / suggestions of the committee, please contact Leslie Mayer ( or Gene Benson ( Thanks again for the opportunity to participate in this important decision.

 Home ] Up ]