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Want to learn more?

Look here and see the map locating Linear Park here.

Better yet, see the higher resolution 11x17 size paper version PDF here.

Design doc that was published in November 2023 but we didn't get access to until Feb 2024. 

Markup of architectural drawings showing 100+ trees to be removed/maimed JUST by the main path expansion ... other new construction (like new "side paths") will damage even more trees in the park.

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Why call the "redesign" an "expressway"? ... because "redesign":

  • widens path from 10.5' in Somerville to 18' wide in Cambridge
  • straightens the path (see Harvey St intersection etc.)
  • has generous shoulders paved with "stone dust"
  • makes it easier to go too fast

How does the city's "redesign" violate the Urban Forest Master Plan?

The UFMP 2020 – 2025 Action Plan states:
1. Our first priority must be to remove fewer trees unnecessarily
2. To extend the lives of our trees through improved management practices
3. Redesign streets and sidewalks to make room for more trees
4. Add (not remove!) trees to parks
5. Add new parks (not transform into something else!)

Why is the Urban Forest Master Plan important?

Because the last report said our Tree Canopy needed to grow 18% and growth happens slowly, over decades. Loss from cutting down a tree is instantaneous.

Why do you say "redesign" doubles (100% increase) the pavement?

The main path now is typically 10.5' wide. The "redesign" with the shoulders varies but is proposed at 18' which is more than a 50% increase. There are numerous "side paths" paved with "stone dust" (compacted on a compacted gravel base) proposed. The various benches and tables will be mounted on concrete pads. Without final drawings, a good estimate is more than a 100% increase in paved area.

Why is it important that Linear Park remain a "cool corridor"?

The Linear Park trees not only cool people and pets in the park, it also cools the neighborhood around the park. See the wonderful New York Times article about Singapore here (though it the graphics only come thru when you read it on the New York Times website).

Why not pave right up to a tree? .. or excavate near a tree?

Trees need to get light, air, and most importantly water from their root system that spreads out from the stem, about 18" below the surface. The "Critical Root Zone" is 1' of radius from the stem for each each of diameter of the stem. Industry standards say the design must be changed if 25% of the CRZ is damaged.

How much excavation does our Development Dept's "redesign require?

Every light is to be relocated: the old 4' deep concrete foundation to be removed, a new foundation dug in, and a trench to connect the electric power from the old to the new.

A 4' deep trench running the entire length of the park for a new water line to supply hose spigots for manually watering trees during droughts. Remember that 8 of the past 10 years have had some level of drought.

Excavation to create proper slope (i.e. flatten out the carefully designed "hills and dales") for new ADA accessible side paths. Also required is the excavation for the compacted gravel base to keep the "side paths" flat over time. Maybe 9" deep by 48" wide.

Other excavation required for concrete pads for benches, tables, artwork, and "playful elements". Also for new storm sewer lines, fences, etc.

The city says the Linear Park lights are old, dim, and to be replaced with new "city standard" LED lights ... why keep them?

The park lights are about 5 years old. They are very expensive, state-of-the-art, LED lights that are dimmed by the remote computer system which extends their lifetime well past the specified 25 years. You can see the antennas for the control system on the top of each light. You can also see that the paint at the bottom of the "acorn" lamp fixture is a rich dark green while the posts have not been painted for years. Finally, when they are lighted, you can see one of the reasons for the expense: the top of the "acorn" fixture is dark as these are downward facing, "dark sky" fixtures ... but they look like the historic fixtures in Harvard Square. It would be environmental crime to junk these lights!

How can you come up with a $2 million restoration budget?

City contracts are public information so a budget was created using areas of pavement, costs of asphalt and brick paving, estimated repairs for irrigation, plantings, fencing, etc. ... then included a 25% contingency. The city has the same contingency but it is excluded from their total. So a $7 million budget is really almost $9 million.

Here's the quick summary:

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