Northampton Redoubt: Videos and photographs of a walking tour of North Street Northampton’s Mill Yard Brook and vernal pools

Daryl LaFleur kindly granted us permission to reprint his article from today’s Northampton Redoubt. If you use Firefox and the videos don’t play, please try viewing this page with Internet Explorer.

Sunday, March 09, 2008
Videos and photographs of a walking tour of North Street Northampton’s Mill Yard Brook and vernal pools

Douglas Kohl granted me permission to revisit his North Street area property from time to time, so March 5 I toured the area as the rain was letting up, and recorded some video clips. Doug is planning to construct 26-31 market rate housing units in the area and is addressing the Conservation Commission Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 5:30 PM in the city hall hearing room on the second floor. The discussion will focus on vernal pool protocol as the Conservation Commission is to assess the area in the spring. See also new photo gallery of the tour

Mill Yard Brook at the Northampton Bicycle Path access point

Mill Yard Brook

Mill Yard Brook

Mill Yard Brook north/west vernal Pool

Mill Yard Brook inlet/outlet

Mill Yard Brook area wetlands

Mill Yard Brook south/west vernal pool

Mill Yard Brook south/west vernal pool-opposite side

About 30 feet from the south/west vernal pool

Mound of refuse in the North Street area woods

Tributary running behind homes on the south side of Northern Avenue

The other side of the bicycle path

The other side of the bicycle path and the conclusion of our tour

See also:

Kohl Goes Before Conservation Commission on March 13 to Discuss Vernal Pool Assessment Protocol

Northampton Redoubt: Doug Kohl reduces “footprint” of subdivision proposal due to the discovery of vernal pools in the North Street area wetlands (9/13/07)

Conservation Commission Votes to Delay Vernal Pool Delineation on Kohl Property to Spring 2008 (8/23/07)

Report on Kohl’s Property by Alec MacLeod, Environmental Scientist: Indications of Vernal Pool Habitat (8/22/07)

Northampton’s Flood and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan: Floyd Flood Damage Reported Behind View Avenue; Avoid Building on Filled Wetlands (8/24/07)
The plan specifically warns against building on Filled Wetlands:

Many areas of the City were developed before the passage of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act of 1972. Historically filled wetlands are commonly related to problems with wet basements, flooding, shifting foundations and failed septic systems. Development in historically filled wetlands should be discouraged through zoning in order to protect health and safety. (p.24)
It is well known that some of Kohl’s land contains fill from work on Market Street, dumped there in the early 1980s. Kohl’s own Request for Determination of Applicability notes, “The wetlands are degraded with masonry and other construction and road building debris.” It seems plausible that parts of Kohl’s property meet the definition of a filled wetland.

Chilmark Wetlands Protection Bylaws: Disturbed and Filled Wetlands Merit Protection (9/3/07)
(A) Vegetated Wetlands are freshwater wetlands, classified as wet meadows, marshes, swamps and bogs. They are usually areas where the topography is relatively flat, or areas of sheet flow on moderate slopes, and where the soils are perennially saturated. The ground and surface water regime and the vegetational community which occur in each type of freshwater wetland are specified in Section 3.02(1)(c) below. Freshwater wetlands also include: disturbed areas such as, but not limited to, filled or devegetated wetlands where the substrate is composed of hydric soils. [Emphasis added]

Photo Essay: Millyard Brook Swells with Water in Winter (1/12/08)

Northampton Redoubt: Urban Planning, Public Policies, and Urban Ecology

Daryl LaFleur: North Street Area and Urban Ecology
Traffic concerns aside, this residential subdivision proposal represents a single-use albeit tightly clustered sprawl-like development that on paper is quite different in appearance from the existing neighborhood. This is not unlike Hockanum Road where the city recently permitted the installation of fourteen three-story row houses in a neighborhood that consisted mostly of single-family homes.

Northampton Redoubt: Urban Ecology, Planting Trees, and the Long-Term View
…I have yet to read anywhere where infill is described as developing existing and vital ecosystems. Each time I read about infill the topics concern redeveloping brownfields or previously developed urban areas that are not utilized to the fullest extent.

For more on urban ecology visit: and note in the bibliography Northampton’s own Rutherford Platt from the University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst. According to the website urban ecology was founded in the 1970’s by Richard Register in Berkeley, California to “rebuild cities in balance with nature.” Urban ecology is defined as the study of the interactions between biological communities and the urban environment and its goal is to achieve a balance between human culture and the natural environment.

Northampton Redoubt: “North Street area citizens join together”

NSNA Featured on Home Page of
Daryl LaFleur has published a blog entry about NSNA on Northampton Redoubt, his blog at The Advocate is featuring this entry on its home page today. Daryl began coverage of Kohl Construction’s plans last month, writing about it on June 15, and providing several good photos of the plans.

In a comment below his June 15 entry Daryl writes:

Often overlooked is the importance of maintaining our urban ecology. Retaining green urban patches is vitally important in order to support wildlife and the ecocycle. New zoning in Northampton is resulting in infilled neighborhoods so we are losing green spaces intown that support birds and small mammals. I think infill is fine when speaking of redeveloping an area that has already been paved over and has no historic significance. Eliminating all intown green spaces however is another matter.