The town’s State Hospital Advisory Committee (SHAC) is holding a public visioning session this coming Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM at The Center, to get input from all residents about what to do with the Medfield State Hospital site. There will be a special town meeting (STM) in February or March for the town to decide whether to buy the MSH site for the $3.1 m. price the selectmen recently struck with DCAMM, so all residents are encouraged to attend to learn more and to give the town the benefit of their thoughts.
Buying the MSH site allows the town to control the ultimate uses of the site, and DCAMM has offered easy financial terms – they will finance the purchase over ten years, so that we only need to pay $310,000 per year. In a worse case situation, the town would have to pay about $10 m. to demolish all the buildings, but it would be preferable to develop the core campus and have the developer do the demolitions, where they can do it less expensively since they do not have to follow prevailing wage law requirements so they can do it cheaper.
The scenario and time constraints are such that the town will need to first make the decision to buy, before the town can decide upon the ultimate uses of the land. This inverted process results because:
- the town would like to respond to the pending purchase opportunity before Governor Patrick and his administration leave office in a year (when that opportunity may disappear),
- the required special legislation will need to be crafted and passed by July when the legislative session ends.
- Semator Timilty opines that the legislation will need to be submitted by April to have any chance at passage in the legislature by July, and
- the town has to have made the decision to buy the MSH site at the special town meeting (in February or March) before the legislature will even consider that needed legislation.
Hence the need to have a special town meeting (STM) in the next two months.
The SHAC recently circulated a survey to the residents, and got 258 responses. The most popular suggested uses were for open spaces, trails, recreation, farming, and housing, more or less in that order. The good news is that the site is sufficiently large that all of those uses can be accommodated along with the development that will provide the appropriate economic returns to the town.
OPEN SPACES & TRAILS – The town would be buying 134 acres that is surrounded by hundreds of other acres of land that is currently open space and will continue to be open space. Those other lands that the town will not purchase contain many fields and trails that will continue to be open to the public to use, just as they are now. All the lands along the river and the large fields to the east and west of the MSH buildings will continue to be public lands, open to all, just as now.
The 134 acres being bought by the town consists of two parcels, the 40 acres that surround the sledding hill and the 94 acres where the buildings are currently located. While there are 40 acres around the sledding hill, only twelve of those acres on that side of Hospital Road will be able to be developed, due to state restrictions against development of lands containing agricultural soils. Hence, 28 acres on that side of Hospital Road will not be developed and will remain open land.
I can today go out the door of my house (adjoining the MSH area) and jog or cross country ski for miles and hours, without ever being on roads, except to cross them, and there is so much open spaces in the area that fact will not change.
FARM – DCAMM has indicated that the town can discuss with the state’s Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the state entity that will acquire ownership and control of the fields to the east and west of the MSH buildings, about farm and/or CSA use of those lands. I personally like exploring having a farm and/or a CSA operation in town, and I think the DCR lands at the MSH could be an excellent location, just as the town’s Holmquist lands would be as well.
RECREATION – As noted above, there will always be much open space available for passive recreation uses in that general vicinity. The town can also opt to have any of the rest of the lands it buys made available for recreational uses. One of the suggestions for development at the site is as a regional recreational facility.
HOUSING – There should be plenty of land on which to develop housing of the sort that is lacking and therefore needed in town, housing that which will not entail large municipal costs, such as housing for the elderly, housing for empty nesters, and/or dense developments such as Olde Medfield Square which has only one school child in its first 27 occupied units.
I have suggested that the town should develop a master plan to look at all our options for locating affordable housing and other town needs throughout the town, and I hope that we can integrate the MSH site into a town-wide plan that addresses all our future needs in a well thought out and integrated manner. Planning the development at the MSH could then become part of our plan for the development of all the rest of the town.
Bill Massaro has been a close follower of and participant in the MSH clean up and development process. His email this week does a nice job of summarizing our current situation –
Sent: Saturday, January 4, 2014 7:15:34 PM
Subject: State Hospital Property Reuse Visioning Workshop 1-11-14 : What Would You Like To See There?
Because of your continuing concern and support, after 5 years of struggles we were able to reach agreement with DCAMM on the cleanup and restoration of the 100-year old hazardous landfill alongside and in the Charles River at the former State Hospital.
So 2013 will be remembered as the year we not only protected the Town’s main well, but left another priceless gift to the future generations who will take advantage of the safe recreational opportunities you have made possible, and who will forever appreciate the restored beauty on this stretch of the Charles.
The next few months present us with the opportunity to decide what gift we will leave for future generations on the rest of the Hospital property .
After the Hospital closed in 2003, DCAMM’s refusal to sell any of the property to the Town led to the 2008 Legislation authorizing 2 parcels for Developer sale and their reuse for 440 housing units.
As part of the new cooperative relationship, the current administration at DCAMM has offered to sell these 2 parcels to the Town. The Board of Selectmen have accepted DCAMM’s offer and have begun defining a detailed purchase and sale agreement, and sometime within the next few months a Special Town meeting will be called to give residents the opportunity to approve or reject the purchase.
On Saturday January 11 at 10:00 a.m. at the Center on Ice House Road, the State Hospital Advisory Committee (SHAC) will hold a Visioning Workshop to get your views for potential uses of the property. SHAC members will first present background information on the parcels being offered, provide details on the proposed terms of sale, and provide a summary of recent resident surveys and consultant studies on potential reuse of the property.
You will then have the opportunity in small break-out groups to discuss issues and opportunities. Lunch will be provided and afterwards you can join in developing scenarios for alternative future use of the property.
The attached invitation provides additional information on the meeting time and a link for further information.
This meeting will give you the opportunity to have your voice heard in deciding how 2014 will be remembered by future Medfield generations.
I hope you can attend.
The RSVP address is email@example.com