Letter to the Editor: Readers voices concerns over proposed Saugus Ridge development
To All Residents of Saugus,
I write this letter to voice my concerns about the proposed Saugus Ridge development. I feel strongly that Saugus Ridge will adversely affect our Town because of safety issues, and the negative impact it will have on the Town’s natural surroundings, infrastructure, abutters, schools, and already saturated traffic.
Firstly, the future of Pranker’s Pond is at stake. I am deeply concerned about the irreparable damage to the delicate ecosystem, which includes the Saugus River. Changes in runoff will harm historic Pranker’s Pond, the “hidden gem” of Saugus. For many years, residents of Cliff Road fought hard to keep these woods preserved and protected, because it has been a sanctuary and refuge for both residents and wildlife.
Did you know that Saugus Ridge is identified as the habitat of one endangered species? I wonder if other endangered plants and animals may also be at risk of losing their habitats, or worse, their species. How can we be certain there are no other living things here that fall into the endangered or threatened category? I believe the Town must conduct a study during each season to ensure no other endangered or threatened species live here. It makes sense to investigate the site for a full year and determine if any endangered or threatened organisms live here.
In addition to my concerns about land and wildlife preservation, safety of the abutters is an unsettling issue. The proposed “Saugus Ridge” is set upon a ridge, which will require blasting over several months. This will undoubtedly compromise existing abutters’ foundations. Furthermore, the high pressure Tennessee Gas main that runs parallel to the ridge makes me uneasy. We have witnessed the long-term damage and aftermath as a result of excessive pressure which caused the natural gas lines to explode in Merrimack Valley. Will the relentless blasting disturb the high pressure pipeline? What analysis or simulation has been completed to ensure that distress to the earth will not cause damage or create explosions?
Moreover, the ridge and the several hundred majestic trees that line it have always provided a natural sound buffer against the continuous Route One traffic. If the project does indeed move forward, the buffer will no longer exist. How will the sound barrier be replaced for residents?
Next, how will the Saugus Ridge and other housing projects impact the education of our children? How will the new middle/high school house and educate a substantial influx of new students? Is the new school building large enough? Will additional staff be hired? Will we have unmanageable class sizes before a new school is even completed?
As you know, the current traffic load is almost unbearable at any time of day. The recent traffic study alone raises eyebrows; receiving an “F” rating. This proposed development will surely add more cars to the highly congested roads. As it stands, there is only one way in and out of the proposed development. One can only imagine the added traffic strain once the development at Hilltop opens. How will residents enter and exit safely on Route 1? Has an emergency response analysis been conducted to confirm whether one entrance of egress is sufficient and viable? Since some emergency apparatus is unable to travel down Cliff Road, there will be no a back entrance to the proposed development. Have all hypothetical emergency situations been thought through for the worst case scenario? I wonder if first responders are also at greater risk.
Finally, I understand the Town is not meeting the 40b guidelines. Still, why isn’t the Town working proactively to fulfill that requirement? Why hasn’t the Town demanded the newest developments at Hilltop, or Essex Street (mini golf) to carry this burden (40b) on already developed land?
It would be a travesty to exploit this land that teems with wildlife and flora to a housing development. We must preserve one of the few remaining open spaces left in Town, a place all residents can continue to enjoy.
The Saugus Ridge development is not a “done deal”. If you have similar concerns, please make the Board of Appeals aware of your concerns. I urge residents to think carefully about the lasting negative impact it will leave, long after the developers have filled their wallets, left their mark, and walked away from this great Town we call home. Let’s look carefully at this development and consider all the ways it will affect our Town before a decision is rendered and it is too late to voice an opinion.