OP-ED: Spicer, Stefanini, and Environmental Justice for Framingham

I wholeheartedly endorse John Stefanini for our first Mayor because he understands and supports Environmental Justice which is based on the principle that all people have the right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment. Historically there has been a disproportionate burden of industrial pollution on people of color and low-income communities.

The densely populated SE Framingham neighborhoods of District 9 bear the burden of three known toxic sites. From the 1880s to the 1960s companies like Dennison Corporation, Old Colony Tar Company and Commonwealth Gas located factories there because the area possessed railroads, waterways and a ready population of workers. They brought jobs and prosperity to Framingham but also polluted the
land and waterways with carcinogenic toxins including coal tar, creosote, lead, chromium, arsenic and cyanide. The most serious among the sites are:

1. 350 Irving Street, owned by Eversource, a 20-acre former Manufactured Gas Plant site is polluted with coal tar, cyanide and other toxins. A landscape company sells the public mulch sitting on this toxic land. For 5 years, residents were subjected to 15 mulch pile fires and a gas leak while 10 businesses squatted on this property without paying personal property taxes.

2. General Chemical Corporation (GCC) dumped toxic chemicals into the ground near the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. After months of hearings conducted by the Board of Health, GCC announced they would cease operations. On March 7, 2017 GCC’s lawyers announced the company will no longer pay for the cleanup, claiming bankruptcy. This is now in the hands of the MA Attorney General

3. Mary Dennison Park (MDP). While advocating that a skatepark be built there, I discovered the Town had known since 1990 that MDP had been a town dump and was polluted by Dennison Corporation with heavy metals and VOCs but they failed to report this to the Department of Environmental Protection or to initiate clean-up. On May 5, 2014, during a Community Meeting, residents were informed of high lead levels in the tot lot. An 11-year old girl said she was afraid to play at the park. She was told that it was safe as-long as she did not eat the dirt! The environmental activists’ demand that the playground be shut down until further testing was completed, was denied. It was not until September 9, 2014 that the tot lot was fenced off due to an imminent danger from high levels of lead.
https://patch.com/massachusetts/framingham/town-forced- close-mary- dennison-playground-0

On October 14, 2014 with the support of the then Director of the Health Department, I spoke before the Board of Selectmen (BOS) about these sites and proposed an Environmental Safety Committee. The BOS did not respond.

This lack of accountability by our Town government was the primary reason I supported a City form of government with a Mayor who could be held accountable.

I have carefully examined the positions of the two mayoral candidates regarding environmental justice issues in our community. Before I met Mr. Stefanini, he already knew about them. He asked to meet with me in-order to discuss solutions.

On June 14, 2017 Source published this: “OP-ED: Stefanini Says Environment Needs to be a Top Priority for Framingham.” Among his environmental policies were “Cleanup environmentally contaminated sites throughout our community, including 350 Irving Street and Dennison Park, prevent pollution, stop pollution and hold environmental polluters responsible.”

Even more important, he has a plan – “To achieve these goals, we need to make our environment one of our top priorities. Currently in Framingham, no one person is charged with monitoring and managing our progress to achieve these goals. As Mayor, I will assign this significant responsibility to a full-time Director of Environmental Integrity who will be accountable to get this done.”

I have known Dr. Spicer since she joined the Ways and Means Committee in 2016 and have attended over a dozen meetings with her.

When I engaged her in conversation following these meeting, she talked about her position at the Museum of Science, her education and her world travel, but never asked me a single question about any of our southside issues including environmental ones even though she knew my involvement with them.

Dr. Spicer’s platform is devoid of solutions to the environmental injustice which exists in Framingham.

In the video of Dr. Spicer accepting her nomination to run for mayor, she said “As Mayor I will fight to preserve our natural resources. There has been some work done to some of our areas where we have some challenges, MDP, General Chemical, 350 Irving Street. I actually sat in a meeting yesterday with someone from the Department of Preservation and he knew about Framingham and some of these situations.”

She then promised to be more vigilant to preserve our community.

There is no “Department of Preservation.”

I assume that she meant the Department of Environmental Protection. We do not want to preserve our polluted areas, but rather to clean them up, put them to better use, and protect our vulnerable residents.

To earn the title of the “People’s Mayor” one needs to care about all our people, especially the most vulnerable ones.

John Stefanini has proven throughout his life that he cares about all of Framingham, all our neighborhoods and all our children. He is the right choice for the critical position of first Mayor of Framingham.

Judith Grove
Town Meeting Member, Chair of Precinct 15
Co-founder of S.T.O.P. (Stop Toxic Operators and Polluters)
Candidate for District 8 City Councilor

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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