THE CITY WOULD ALLOW A PRIVATE CONTRACTOR TO CUT DOWN THIS BEAUTIFUL 30’ OAK TREE TO INSTALL STEEL CARPORTS
We object to the construction of solar panel canopies for the Auburndale Cove parking lot. While we continue to support the goal of increasing the City’s use of clean energy, we also believe that it is critical for Newton to assess each site individually and weigh the pros and cons of development at each location. We have spoken to many Auburndale neighbors, as well as residents of other parts of Newton, who agree that the harm that this project would do far outweighs any benefit for the following reasons:
This Cove is different from almost all of the other sites. The Cove is a nature area, one of the few parks in Newton, and the only one in this part of the City. Unlike almost all of the other sites, there are no commercial, municipal or school buildings anywhere nearby.
Alternative power generation should not be the City’s only goal. In our view, environmentalism is not just about power generation. Just like environmental groups rightly oppose drilling for oil in preserved parkland, the people who use the Cove rightly oppose creating an industrial, solar-power generating structure in front of these parks.
Opposition from cross section of park users throughout Newton. Not surprisingly, the Auburndale residents to whom we have spoken overwhelmingly oppose the construction of a large solar panel structure in this quiet, strictly residential neighborhood. But, the opposition is much broader than the local area and includes residents of all parts of Newton who use the Cove Park. In fact, to date, more than 200 people have signed a petition opposing construction at this location.
Pursue other options first. Before building a project that spoils a park area in a neighborhood, the city should explore using commercial, municipal or state-owned properties where there would be no impact on residential neighbors. City officials have told us they intend to explore these kinds of properties but have not done this yet. Spoiling a park in a residential neighborhood should be a last resort, not a first option.
No evidence that solar panels at the Cove will benefit the environment. The Cove parking lot is surrounded by large trees and is often shaded. The City has not done any due diligence to assess the effectiveness of the proposed solar panels and is instead, relying on private companies who are proposing to build them. These private companies have interests in acquiring tax credits and other benefits that are irrelevant to the City’s goal of reducing carbon emissions. The City has also failed to assess the environmental impact of this project on the abutting conservation land.
Not just a parking lot. The Cove parking lot is an extension of nature areas, enhancing the views of the wide-open spaces, trees and the Charles River. At quieter times, the lot doubles as a recreational area for kids learning to ride bikes. All of this will be spoiled if the City builds a large solar parking canopy on the lot.
For all of these reasons, we, and more than 200 residents who have signed our petition to date, ask the City to remove the Auburndale Cove parking lot from its list of solar panel installation sites.
Above is an example of a solar carport installation and another view of the recreation area that would be affected.