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Month: August 2015

2015 Summer Meeting

2015 Summer Meeting –
A River Runs Through It: Daylighting of the Neponset River at Gillette Stadium

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Thursday August 6th at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA

More than a decade ago, the New England Patriots’ constructed the new Gillette Stadium.  A significant side project was the restoration of a long stretch of the Neponset River adjacent to the new stadium’s parking lot.  The SNEC 2015 Summer Meeting featured a tour of the site a decade later, where attendees witnessed for ourselves the progress of the maturing habit; followed by a presentation (posted below) of project details in a stadium conference room.  SNEC members and friends adjourned to a nearby restaurant for the Chapter business portion of the program, which included a tally of election results and discussion about the future of the SWCS Southern New England Chapter.

The tour and presentation were arranged by the Ecological Landscape Alliance.  Thank you, Penny Lewis and Tom Benjamin!

Thank you as well to our hosts, Woody Benisek-Beal and Stephen Morrison of the Kraft Group.

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    bio-engineered stormwater BMP inside the stadium
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    wetland plantings are diverse and thriving
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    planting design info appears on slide # 49 of Tom’s presentation (below)
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    acres of riparian corridor, including upland meadow, were restored with native species
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    scour protection at culverts
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    bio-engineered stormwater management for parking area
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    The pedestrian access is a berm that doubles as a flood control structure – see slide # 39 of Tom’s presentation, below
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    Looking south/upstream at “rapids” and other habitat features – see slide # 45 of Tom’s presentation (below) – towards a low-flow weir
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    The site tour started on the pedestrian access walkway from the T station, which offers a great view of the daylighted river.
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    Neponset River, looking north/downstream – conceptual design info begins on slide # 34 of Tom’s presentation (below)
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    Tom Benjamin of Ecological Landscape Alliance (right) with hosts Woody Benisek-Beal and Stephen Morrison (left) of the Kraft Group
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    Success!! Neponset River at Gillette Stadium, 18 July 2015

In the 1940s, racetrack construction on the site had originally forced the river underground.  Gillette Stadium needed parking and the silt-clogged system needed “daylighting” and restoration.  Tom Benjamin was hired by the New England Patriots/Kraft Group to enhance daylighting and re-create the riparian habitat for a one-mile section of the Neponset River including all aspects of the landscape design, from the master plan through to construction documents.

The daylighting project removed two blocked culverts and reconnected disrupted sections of the river, diverting flow back to the Neponset River’s historic alignment.  Wetland mitigation and flood control provided major drivers for this fast-tracked project that proceeded from concept to implementation in less than one year.  The primary flood control structure, a large berm, served as an access path to the stadium’s railroad station, adding to the project’s visibility.  Tom leveraged complex wetland compliance elements to maximize the visual impact and biodiversity values of the restored river corridor’s natural edge to developed portion of site.

Tom Benjamin’s project presentation:
Neponset River Restoration Project for the New England Patriots (16 MB)

Project Highlights:

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Award for Excellence (2002)
  2. Extensive bioengineering and re-vegetation efforts
  3. A river corridor functioning as an established natural system restored back to its original alignment

Article by Tom, published in the April 2003 issue of Landscape Architect magazine:
Neponset Article_LA Mag-Ecology_April 03

Tom Benjamin is an independent registered Landscape Architect and LEED-accredited Professional (AP BD+C) practicing design and sustainability consulting, and is Principal of Wellnesscapes.  Tom has more than 20 years of experience in environmental design and sustainability work that often focused on green design including energy, waste, water and food systems.

In addition to residential restoration, Tom’s site planning work emphasizes low cost, low maintenance landscape solutions for healthcare, academic and senior institutions, public facilities, commercial and residential developments, large-scale solar farms and community farms/gardens.

Tom teaches sustainable landscape design at the University of Massachusetts.  He is the recipient of multiple awards, including three for his sustainable landscape design work at Kent Hospital in Warwick, RI.  Tom is a Board Member of the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA).

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