What would the town do with MSH?


I was asked what the town would do with the Medfield State Hospital site if it would to buy the property, and the following was my response –
The whole dilemma or problem with the current offer by the state to sell the Medfield State Hospital to the town is that the purchase will likely have to happen before the town will have the opportunity to have a fully completed discussion on what to ultimately do with the property.  Despite that fact, I personally think the opportunity for the town to control its own destiny by the means of the purchase of the Medfield State Hospital site is just too important for the town to not pursue the purchase. 
However, if the town were to purchase the Medfield State Hospital site, then the town will then have to have an energetic discussion on what to do with it.  That is a discussion that the town’s State Hospital Advisory Committee (SHAC), that is currently meeting regularly to consider all the many issues related to the MSH and its possible purchase, will have to lead and a discussion that they are already starting to have.  The SHAC is currently planning for a town wide visioning meeting at which all residents will be invited to explore all options. 
To date the most likely uses at the Medfield State Hospital site have revolved around housing, because the experts say that most businesses and commercial establishments will not want to locate in Medfield, given our distance from major highways.  My personal goal would be to target housing of a sort where we currently have unmet needs in town and which would not add a lot of costs to the town budget (which ultimately unfortunately means not too many school children). 
I can imagine the town wanting to have
  • more housing for seniors, housing for empty nesters that does not currently much exist in town (so that they do not leave town),
  • assisted living and/or a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) (like a Foxhill, North Hill or Lasell Village, 
  • affordable housing so that we can get to the 10% threshold that would prevent 40B projects from locating anywhere in town, or
  • replicating the Old Village Square project (27 houses with only one school child, so that when that project is completed the town will receive $600,000 a year in property taxes compared to having less that $50,000 in municipal costs).

Medfield is perfectly located to make its primary business to be the providing housing, but if housing is what we opt to use to increase our tax base, the town needs to make sure that most of any new housing has to be of a type that will not add a lot to the town budget.

The town website has a section on the Medfield State Hospital and the State Hospital Advisory Committee’s website also lists a lot of the details.  The 2012 Jones Lang LaSalle report gives a good overview of the likely potential development options that the market would mandate, and repeats the same results about possible ultimate uses that several other studies over the years have concluded, namely that housing is the most likely use.

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