Although the city of Quincy has ended a dispute with one neighbor over the Town Brook project, it will continue fighting with a local environmental group that opposes the plan.
According to city documents, Quincy officials have agreed to pay a resident who lives next to the Town Brook more than $25,000 in settlement fees in order to continue with plans to relocate the waterway from inside the city center to along the Walter Hannon Parkway.
The settlement, which outlines 26 criteria for moving forward, includes $25,000 for an easement of a section of Arline Goodman’s property. The brook currently runs along the edge of that property.
The money will be used to help reimburse Goodman for her legal and engineering fees, Goodman said in an e-mail.
“Some of calls I am getting make it sound like I was 'bought off' for $25,000 which … is not the case,” she said.
Additionally, the agreement calls for the city to fund flood insurance for five years from completion of construction of the book, and to pay the rent of the tenant in the building located closest to the brook, starting one week prior to the start of construction and continuing through the completion of work at Goodman’s property.
Both the insurance and the rent are expected to be no more than $1,000 a year each, city officials said.
The city must also install signs along the road, install a pedestrian crosswalk at Mechanic Street and Revere Road, provide parking for Goodman and her tenants during construction, and install a French drain or sump pump system in the basement to protect Goodman’s home from flooding.
In return, Goodman will allow access to the city, join with the city to file any additional paperwork relative to the downstream section, and not file any appeals.
Goodman had been fighting with the city about the brook for months before the settlement.
Concern initially flared up when the Goodman discovered that the newly connected brook would make a sharp turn near her property on its way toward the American Legion post on Mechanic Street.
The intent was to widen the brook to eight feet prior to a connection at Goodman’s property, which would meet up with a six-foot section as it met with Goodman’s land. Goodman was concerned that the change would increase flooding on her property.
Goodman appealed the brook project to the Department of Environmental Protection, where a presiding officer determined that the two sides could reach a compromise.
Although Goodman’s lawyer suggested that his client could go to court over the brook, she eventually decided to settle.
According to mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker, Goodman had met directly with Mayor Thomas Koch and City Solicitor Paul Hines to discuss the terms of the settlement. The lawyers took the discussions from there.
Goodman couldn’t be reached for further comment.
The settlement includes mitigation measures where the brook will be widened to eight feet, in order to smooth the transition between the old brook and the new.
Debris will also be cleared from the brook, and the city is investigating the use of a transparent material to construct a wall along Goodman’s property.
“After all is said and done, Ms. Goodman believes that the project was improved by some of her concerns being addressed,” said attorney Stuart Schrier, who is representing Goodman. “She still has concerns about increased flooding, but the efforts of the City of Quincy to address her concerns was appreciated.”
Schrier said he hopes the city learns something from this process, and realizes that talking to neighbors is the best course of action when resolving disputes.
According to Walker, money for the mitigations will come from existing financing for the Town Brook, either through the $10.1 million in grant money procured from the state, or from $40 million in i-Cubed money the city expects.
Downstream, the town brook project is progressing rapidly.
While the city’s contractor – LM Heavy Civil Construction - works near Revere and Mechanic Street to install a conduit that will tunnel towards Hancock Street, Beal/Street-Works has been working to procure the American Legion Post.
The post sits on a parcel that the brook will eventually run through, with a “pocket park” to be placed on the property.
According to Walker, the city’s partner purchased the building for $550,000 last week and named the city as de facto owner. That has allowed the city to put out bids for demolition. Demolition bids are expected to come in as early as next week, Walker said.
“From the city’s standpoint this is a huge endeavor and it's moving forward as anticipated in a relatively smooth fashion. At this point, it’s staying on budget and on schedule,” Walker said.
While the city moves forward on the brook, Quincy Environmental Network is seeking relief through Norfolk Superior Court.
According to QEN Spokesperson Steve Perdios, the group is appealing the decision issued by the Department of Environmental Protection in May, which claimed that the city’s plans would improve the conditions of the downtown waterway.
Perdio said the group is seeking further review of Town Brook project, specifically regarding flood analysis.
The appeal was filed on Monday, and no hearings have been scheduled yet.
“We’re fighting a good fight. I don’t know if I’m optimistic, but we’re fighting a good fight,” Perdios said.