The summer of 2016 will go down as the hottest and driest summer since 1872 with only 3.92 inches of rain from June through August. The Pine Tree Brook is one of the most visible recipient of this unusual dry season. The brook is nearly dried up with only small pools of water scattered through-out its nearly 10-mile waterway. This Milton treasure is a far cry from its usual soothing flow of water.
But what is exposed is how the brook has deteriorated over the years. All types of debris from rusted bedsprings, brake drums, tires, fallen trees, weeds and brush are now clearly visible. The dumping of waste polluted drain water that’s pumped into the brook along with the many street drainage pipes only add to its current soiled condition.
In 1955 Milton had its most rain ever recorded at that time with 15.5 inches of rain falling in two days. Former Pine Tree Brooks Neighborhood Association activist, Dick Russell, remembers that time well. “Everyone who lived along brook from Blue Hills Parkway to Thacher Street had at least 5 feet of water in their cellars. Trying to get to my house on Gibbons Street the water was above my knees on Audubon Road,” said Russell.
Russell had the only boat in the area that he built for racing and he quickly put it into service. “Can you imagine I could ride my boat in the Pine Tree Brook. I lost count in the number of people I rescued from their homes,” said Russell.
Later that year the Town Engineer, Alexander Manning, would inform the town the need for fixing the brook from Harland Street to the Neponset River to prevent flooding in the area in the future. Manning would begin the town’s most aggressive repair to the brook and he would get the major work done before he retired in 1959.
Money, as always, was the big stumbling block. Milton relied heavily on the state’s financial support that wasn’t always there slowing down the repairs. One of the biggest supporters came from the Federal Agriculture Department who designed the Unquity Dam. The dam was built and the final phase was completed after 15 years in 1970. With very little maintenance the Unquity Dam has protected the residents who live along the banks of the Pine Tree Brook for 49 years. Any modification or removal of the dam would put the community again at risk.
Milton has not seen the heavy rains of 1955, but the brook is nothing like it was in its prime in 1970. Time will tell what the future holds for the Pine Tree Brook and all its neighbors who live along its banks