Conservation Commission Gives the Okay for Ocean Avenue Work

The Revere Conservation Commission approved a major renovation of Ocean Ave., extending 950 feet from West St. to State Rd., at the commission’s November 4 meeting.

The road project is being funded by the state and continues the upgrade of signalization along this stretch of roadway.  The first part of the project redid the lights and traffic lanes around the One Beachmont Staybridge Suites/Holiday Inn.

According to Julie DeMauro, the City of Revere Acting Transportation Manager, the major change to the roadway in this area will be the reduction from two lanes to one lane of vehicular travel in each direction.  There will be wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes added as a result of losing the traffic lane in each direction. There also will be more green space and trees added along the road.

Robert O’Brien, the Revere Director of Planning and Development, added that this project has the full support of the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation. He also noted that with the present construction of three apartment buildings in this stretch of the roadway, Ocean Ave. already has been reduced to one lane in each direction and there have been no problems.

Commissioner Joseph Lavallee was concerned about this area becoming “a wind tunnel.” 

“There has been no wind study,” O’Brien said, “since the buildings are not very high, but we did do a traffic study and found no negative result in safety or traffic congestion.”

The commissioners were told that West St. will be returned to a one-way street from Revere Beach Blvd. to Ocean Ave.

O’Brien noted that the area along State Rd. will be done next, and the finished product will be a coordinated signalization with walking and bicycle lanes along the entire stretch of roadway from West St. to the One Beachmont site.

The motion was approved unanimously.  

Suzanne King of BL Companies had some good news about the trees on the Amazon site on American Legion Highway when she reappeared before the commission.

In September, King presented the commissioners with a proposal to expand the parking lot at the Amazon facility. However, under that plan, all of the 20-year old trees would have had to be removed and be replaced by new, smaller saplings.  When the commissioners heard this, they sent King back to the drawing board.

At this meeting, King told the commissioners that only two trees would need to be removed from the site.  

In the September presentation, the trees’ removal was needed because the level of the parking lot had to be raised by about four feet at the tree line to grade the lot to take into account the added water runoff flowing to a larger catch basin along the railroad tracks.

However, King noted that there was an area along the side of the building where an additional 12 cars could be parked. With these spaces taken out of the original plan, there was no need to have the higher slope in proximity to the existing trees.

“This is a better product and everyone wins,” King said.

The commissioners agreed and unanimously approved the project.

The owners of the proposed Amazon facility at the old Showcase Cinemas also appeared before the commission.

The owners, NorthBridge Partners, seek to demolish the existing theater structure that is approximately 112,000 square feet and replace it with a new, 90,000 sq. ft. structure in approximately the same spot. However, the wetlands that surround the site were of concern to the commissioners.

Larry Beals of Beals Associates presented the proposed plans on behalf of the owners. He noted that the area around the Town Line Brook has both phragmites and a lot of trash.

He said that the new owners would keep the current entrance on Squire Road, but would now “be creative with green space and open space in the parking lot.” He said that they would create a brae (a hillside) with added landscaping to act as a buffer to the neighborhood. While 128 trees would be removed, they would add back at least 185 and possibly more.

Beals added that there will be several water quality units located around the lot line that will monitor the runoff from the parking along both the Town Line Brook  on one side and the marshland on the other side. He also noted that the parking lot will have a fence to capture debris before it goes into the marsh or the brook.

Commissioner David Eatough was concerned about the parking being too close to the marshes and questioned whether the lot needed to be elevated. Beals noted the contour of the land drops down after the parking lot.

Commissioner Joseph Lavalle inquired about the flow of traffic. Beals pointed out that the traffic flows in stages and that the peak in-and-out of the Amazon trucks does not occur during the commuter rush hours. 

Jessica Schumer of Amazon explained that the shipments of packages to be delivered arrive at the facility overnight. Once the packages are sorted, they are then put into delivery vans that start leaving the site at 10 a.m., with vans leaving every 20 to 30 minutes.  As the drivers of the vans arrive, they park in an empty space vacated by a delivery van and then drive off in the loaded delivery van.

Some Amazon deliveries are made in the afternoon by flex drivers who use their own cars.  “Usually by 7 p.m. the first wave of our delivery vans returns,” she added.

Responding to a question from Lavalle, Shumer noted that truck maintenance and fueling will be done off-site. O’Brien also noted that the operation will be similar to the Amazon site on the American Legion Highway.

Mary Gandolfo, who lives in the adjacent neighborhood, expressed her worries about trucks using the side streets through the neighborhood.

“We have held an extensive hearing, and the vans will be prohibited from using any side streets when leaving or returning to the Squire Rd. site,” said Revere City Planner Frank Stringi.

Beals also noted that the sumac trees that give a lot of color to the area are not on NorthBridge’s property and will not be harmed.

“During the site plan review, there was concern about vegetation in the wetlands,” Stringi added. “The owners have signed a landscape maintenance agreement in which they agreed to clean up the Town Line Brook on a regular basis. In addition, the city will have an easement to drive its DPW trucks through the property to have access to the Town Line Brook.”

“The traffic impact will be less than Showcase’s,” O’Brien added.

A fact that came out at the hearing was that the east side of the lot by Route 1 was found to be far cleaner than the Town Line Brook side.

At the conclusion of the testimony, the commissioners unanimously passed a motion to approve the proposal.

In the final matter of the meeting, involving an expired order on Muzzey Street Rd., the commissioners noted that all work presently is at least 50 feet from wetlands and that the owners need to go to the Planning Board.  The commission passed a motion to issue a negative determination. 

Ward 6 Councilor Richard Serino sent a letter opposing connecting Muzzey Street Rd. to Eustis St. in Saugus through the Caddy Farm site.

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