MWRA to launch boat in Chestnut Hill Reservoir to fight algae

The MWRA plans to launch a boat in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir this week to apply a non-toxic chemical that could curb one of the nutrient sources for the toxic blue-green algae infesting the water supply.

MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey explains in a message to nearby residents:

A low-dose alum treatment will be applied this week to treat the algae. Alum is aluminum sulfate, which is a non-toxic material commonly used in drinking water treatment plants to improve clarity. It is not harmful to aquatic life or people. Alum binds with the phosphorous to form aluminum hydroxide precipitate (or floc). As the floc settles to the bottom, it will remove the phosphorous from the water and lock it up in the sediment. An added benefit is that it will also collect other suspended particles in the water and improve water clarity. Once on the bottom, it will also act as a barrier to prevent phosphorous already in the sediment from cycling back into the water column.

The boat will be launched from a crane near the Waterworks Museum.

Boston Olympics, Ver. 2.0, to be announced next month

(L-R) Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey, International Olympic Committee member Angela Ruggiero, Executive Director of Olympic Planning Sara Myerson and City Liaison John Fitzgerald at Monday's public hearing

Boston 2024 plans to release a major overhaul of its proposed plans for the Olympics next month, group CEO Rich Davey told a City Council committee today.

The revised plan would provide new details about possible venues, housing and other infrastructure, and may include locations outside of Boston or even New England, Davey said this morning, at at a hearing called by Council President Bill Linehan's Special Committee for the Olympics.

The initial plan, which helped Boston win the USOC nod to become the official US entrant for the games, included facilities in parks, such as the Common and Franklin Park, whose advocacy groups either opposed or said they needed far more details on to support.

Davey said his group is continuing to fine-tune its proposal under the International Olympic Committee's new guidelines for hosting more sustainable games - the 2024 games will be the first under this Olympic Agenda 2020.

Davey was one of four participants on the Olympic panel at this morning's hearing, the first of four hearings by the special committee this spring and summer to discuss Boston's bid.

Angela Ruggiero, a four-time Olympic ice-hockey medalist and a member of the IOC, said the sustainability goals give would-be host city's a lot of flexibility to design cost-effective and sustainable games. "The IOC says if you don't have a venue that makes sense, you can put one in another city because that's sustainable," she said. "You can put one in New York."

Davey also mentioned the help of other cities saying, "It could be judicious to allow some cities in Massachusetts or around the U.S. to help boost revenue or decrease loss." Davey mentioned New York and Chicago as examples.

Ruggiero referenced leveraging existing facilities as event venues – college stadiums in Greater Boston, for example – as another way of being sustainable and "changing the blueprint" of the Olympic Games.

Several councilors, however, said they continue to be concerned about the potential costs to taxpayers - despite repeat promises from Boston 2024 that there will be none - as well as issues related to the displacement of residents and gentrification in areas nearest some of the proposed venues.

At-large city councilor Ayanna Pressley said that while she admires taking a leap of faith and thinking big, she does not yet see a specific plan for dealing with displacement issues.

"I believe in the merit and transformative power of sport but I’m just not sure on legacy side of this, what is the plan to get there?" she asked. "We can wrap our arms around the global community but we have to wrap our arms around the people who are already here. I don’t see a plan. If this is an opportunity for us to be a world model when it comes to inclusion and embracing a global community, there is nothing I can point to right now that we are doing that I can say we can scale up to the Olympics. Very good will and good intention, but we need a pointed plan."

Davey and Sara Myerson, Boston 2024's executive director of Olympic planning, assured Pressley a plan is in the works - and answers should start coming soon.

"We're working under the assumption that the city is not going to be contributing any tax dollars to the construction of stadiums or infrastructure," Davey said. Ruggiero noted that this is unique to the United States; many other countries have sports ministries within their national government.

"We're only about 120 days into this," Davey said, alluding to the unofficial Boston bid announcement in January. "We have nine and a half years left - we don't have a moment to lose."

The Boston bid is currently in the "invitation phase," meaning that it has the full support of the U.S. Olympic Committee but has not yet been officially nominated; despite concerns in Boston, USOC officials continue to say they back Boston. After reviewing official nominations, the IOC will vote on a final city in 2017.

Affordable housing could replace vacant lots, boarded-up house in Egleston Square

Architect's rendering of one of the Walker Park buildings.

Urban Edge Housing Corp. is seeking BRA permission to put up 49 apartments in two buildings on what are now three lots on Walnut Park and Columbus Avenue.

The proposed apartments, at 67 and 80 Walnut Park and 2040 Columbus Ave., would be named Walker Park Apartments, in honor of Delphine Walker, who long lived in a house on what is now a vacant lot at 80 Walnut Park.

All of the apartments would be rented to households earning no more than 60% of the Boston area's median income - with about seven units set aside for residents earning no more than 30% of the median income.

The buildings will have a total of 34 parking spaces for residents.

Walker Park Small Project Review application.

Court: Drug defendants facing new trials thanks to disgraced state chemist can't be charged with more serious offenses the second time around

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that people facing new drug trials because their evidence was handled by convicted state chemist Annie Dookhan cannot be brought up on more severe charges the second time around - and can't get sentences more severe than the ones originally imposed.

The court ruled in cases in Suffolk and Essex counties involving three men who accepted plea deals with prosecutors and who were worried that if they contested their now tossed sentences, they could be subject to the harsher charges and penalties that could come if prosecutors refused to give them the same deals the second time around.

The state's highest court agreed.

In their ruling, the justices noted they don't generally get involved with criminal procedings until after verdicts have been rendered, but said the harm Dookhan did to the justice system was so great, they felt compelled to step in before any of the three came back to trial.

That out of the way, the court continued that while prosecutors may have had no knowledge of what Dookhan was up to, the fact remains she was a government employee and it is unfair to make the defendants bear the added burden that comes from the "government misconduct" she engaged in.

Plus, the court said, plea deals are the equivalent of binding contracts.

That being the case, the Commonwealth cannot simply reprosecute the petitioners as if the plea agreements had never existed, thereby giving the Commonwealth a second bite at the proverbial apple in its efforts to convict the petitioners. Instead, the Commonwealth must be held to the terms of its plea agreements.

Imagine driving behind this

State Police report inspectors were out in full force this weekend, looking for commercial vehicles with improperly secured loads, an issue you may recall became kind of a big deal last summer when a hatchet flew into the windshield of a car on I-95.

Among the 24 vehicles taken off the road immediately, State Police say, was this pickup truck in Chelsea. A total of 246 drivers got citations, they add.

Overall compliance among regulated carriers is much better than it has been in the past. However, passenger vehicles are still losing a lot of debris, particularly on highways and multi-lane roads.

Jury selection starts today for man charged with killing Amy Lord

Jury selection begins today in Suffolk Superior Court for the trial of Edward Alemany, 30, charged with first-degree murder for the July 23, 2013 death of Amy Lord of South Boston.

Alemany is charged with forcing Lord to drive around to ATMs to get him money before killing her and dumping her body in the woods of Stony Brook Reservation on the Hyde Park/West Roxbury line.

Alemany also faces charges for three other attacks in South Boston and Mission Hill.

Innocent, etc.