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City Document. — No. 13.
SURVEYORS OF HIGHWAYS
IN REGARD TO
NORFOLK COUNTY JOURNAL PRESS.
CITY OF ROXBURY.
In Board of Aldermen, Aug. 31, 1857.
Laid upon the Table ; and it was Ordered, That five hundred copies be
printed for the use of the City Council.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
Citg of *§,iwhnt$.
In Board of Aldermen, August 31, 1857.
The subject of the impurities of Stony Brook, southerly
of the culvert built several years ago between Tremont
and Ruggles streets, has been brought to the attention of
the City Government by the petition of Mr. L. S. Beecher,
under date of July 27th, of the present year, and referred
to the Surveyors of Highways. Complaints have also been
made to members of the Government, repeatedly, by per-
sons residing in that neighborhood, of the offensive charac-
ter of the exhalations, particularly during the Summer
months ; and the City Physician has expressed an opinion
that the condition of the brook is injurious to health — a
nuisance, demanding the attention of the Board of Health.
And this can hardly be otherwise, when we consider that
the brook, for the distance of one hundred or more rods,
is used at the present time for all the purposes of a Com-
mon Sewer j that the filth of manufactories of various
kinds is emptied into it ; that sink-drains and impure mat-
ters, solid and fluid, along the whole western line of the
brook, there find a common receptacle : — and that privies
are constructed along the borders in such a manner that
the brook serves as a vault. All this conglomeration of
filth is carried down by the water, until the stream widens
and forms a large basin, at high tides, near the culvert,
which basin is dry sometimes for days together, and with
the impurities aforesaid resting upon it, forming a slough
of slime, mud, and filth exposed to the rays of the sun,
causes an annoyance to the residents in the vicinity and
the passers-by, which calls loudly for some remedy, and
■which, were it not for the sanative properties of the salt
water at full tide, would render that section of the city
And yet this Stony Brook, draining an important and
populous section of this City, and having on its banks
valuable manufacturing establishments, seems admirably
adapted to the purposes of a Common Sewer, and, could
it be used as such, confined within a channel of a uniform
width of eighteen feet, and properly covered, instead of
being a nuisance requiring immediate abatement at almost
any expense, would prove a benefit to the City and to in-
The question then arises, can any measure be adopted
by which these two important objects can be accomplished,
viz., a nuisance abated, and a common sewer provided for
the wants of the people in the neighborhood ? Unless this
can be done, it may be necessary for the City Government
to exercise its authority to prevent all drainage into Stony
Brook, on the part of any of the abuttors, of aught else
than clean surface water. Probably in no other way can
the nuisance complained of be abated, while the channel
remains in its present state.
It will thus be seen that the owners or lessees of build-
ings and property on the banks of this stream have a deep
interest in this subject — and it is to be hoped, and indeed
there is some reason to believe, will be willing not only to
give the City the right of using it as a Common Sewer
forever, but also contribute liberally towards the expense
of putting it in a proper condition for that purpose.
It is presumed that the boundary line of the brook,
eighteen feet in width, although encroached upon in many
places, can be established; that the channel towards the
culvert can be straightened, giving additional power to
the current ; and that a substantial arch of Roxbury stone
may be thrown across the stream, the whole distance from
Orange street to the culvert, a distance of 11 to 1200 feet,
at an expense not exceeding 10,000 dollars.
Nevertheless, should this plan be adopted, there may at
some future day arise more or less difficulty from own-
ers of land bordering the stream, after it crosses Tremont
street. When the lands in that neighborhood become
more raised above the level of tide water, a process which
is constantly going on, they will doubtless be improved
and built upon — perhaps sooner — when it is possible
that the brook may then become a nuisance, and the City
Authorities called upon to abate it, or furnish a remedy.
This can only be done by then continuing the Culvert until
it enters the full basin beyond the Providence Railroad.
After a full consideration of the subject, it would seem
that there are three methods which offer themselves for
removing, wholly or in part, the evils which have been
brought to the notice of the Board of Aldermen, to wit :
1. To establish the boundaries of the brook, and build
a Sewer, arched or covered, from the present Culvert to
Orange street, for a Common Sewer, regardless of the in-
considerable risk of trouble from the owners of the lands
below Tremont street, hereafter; provided the abuttors,
or other persons interested, will pay a liberal portion of
the expense, and surrender to the City the right to use it
2. To compel the abuttors on the brook to discontinue
all their drains of filthy and impure waters or liquids, and
remove all the privies, &c, on the line of the brook ; or
3. To exercise the authority of the Board of Health,
and cause the owners of the estates, where the stagnant
waters create the nuisance referred to, to fill up their
lands as far as the borders of the brook, and thus, by nar-
rowing the channel, prevent the overflow of the waters at
full tide, by which means the strength of the current would
be increased, and the greater portion of the filth and im-
purity, whose deposit is so dangerous to health, and
destructive to comfort, -would be removed.
The first of these measures would undoubtedly be the
best ; the most effectual and enduring, and most conducive
to the credit and advantage of the City : but it would in-
cur a large expense, a very considerable portion of which,
as has already been intimated, should be paid by the par-
ties most directly benefitted.
The second measure alluded to, that of causing the abut-
tors to remove or discontinue the causes of the nuisance,
as asked for by the petitioner, could, for obvious reasons,
only afford a partial remedy — and might bear hard on
many of the abuttors, particularly on the owners of manu-
facturing establishments, who have been in the habit for
years of draining into the brook, which indeed furnishes
the only means of drainage for those establishments.
The third plan suggested would operate to remove, par-
tially at least, the nuisance complained of, but would give
the City or individuals no right to use the brook as a
Common Sewer; and it is possible that any abuttors ag-
grieved by such use of the brook, might, by adopting legal
measures, at any time, prevent its being used as such.
The subject is one of importance, requiring deliberation
and judicious action. It must soon be met in some shape.
The importance of adopting efficient systems of sewerage
in our City, has been strongly and ably urged upon the
attention of the City Government, in a Report made dur-
ing the present year, and printed for distribution. Indeed,
every intelligent citizen must be aware that measures
should be, and must be, adopted at an early day, by which
outlets, at least, should be secured to the City ; and thus
the first and most important step be taken towards so de-
sirable an object.
JOHN S. SLEEPER,
Chairman of the Surveyors of Highways.