Within 45 days, the state government will have something to tell city officials about the fate of the Fernald Center.
What that is however, nobody knows. But, during last night’s meeting of the City Council, officials announced Mayor Jeanette McCarthy had received a letter from state officials telling her they would have information on the fate of the facility for developmentally disabled individuals, within 30-45 days.
The state decided to close the facility in 2008, but it remained open after residents filed appeals against transferring them other facilities, according to the Boston Globe. As of June, there were 14 people remaining there.
News of the state’s letter kicked off a swift debate between city councilors. City Councillor Thomas Curtin proposed taking remaining Community Preservation Committee money to purchased the land which drew a swift rebuke from City Councillor Robert Logan. He said he supported buying the land, but not by using all remaining CPC money. Instead, he said, the city should use only some of it, and find other sources of finding to make up the balance. Using all CPC money would be problematic, he said.
“It wipes out the possibility for a lot of other worthwhile projects,” Logan said.
City Councillor Ed Tarallo said the city should delay any decision because the state could opt to give the city the land at no cost.
“We don’t know what we are going to hear. They may be giving us the land,” Tarallo said.
Curtin rebutted saying the state has already said they would not give the city the land for nothing and believes the price tag will be more than the CPC accounts currently have on hand.
“They are coming to us with a dollar amount,” Curtin said.
Logan also objected to using such a large amount of money in one part of the city, especially since a large sum has already been spent on project surrounding the facility.
“It comes down to fairness and where you are going to spend the money,” Logan said.
Curtin disagreed with that sentiment saying the Fernald issue would impact every taxpayer since all of them paid into the CPC fund when they bought or sold a home. He also said any CPC money spent on buying the Fernald Center would eventually be replenished.
“There will be more funds down the road that will be available for more projects,” Curtin said.
Officials plan to get find out the current balance of the CPC accounts, at the request of Curtin.
Last year, the state rejected the city’s proposal to redevelop the southern part of the property for commercial use, and 74 acres for housing, according to the Boston Globe. Open space, approximately 41 acres, would have been given to the city.