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Deal on Fernald Center in Waltham a Possibility, Officials Say

City Councillor Tom Stanley recently talked about how the city could acquire the Fernald Center.

While details have yet to unfold, a possible deal for the former Fernald Center has emerged, according to City Councillor Tom Stanley.

According to Stanley, under an idea recently generated among state and city officials, Waltham could take ownership of the site through a “sale/partnership” for a “fair market” price. Under the plan, state lawmakers would have to approve special legislation to sell the land to the city, Stanley said.

The facility, located on Trapelo Road, provides services to developmentally-disabled individuals.

The state decided to close the Walter E. Fernald Development Center in 2008, but the center remained open after residents filed appeals against being transferred to other facilities, according to the Boston Globe. The appeals are still pending, Executive Office of Health and Human Services Spokesman Alec Loftus said.

Thirteen residents are still receiving services at the Fernald site, according to Loftus. Also, 93 full-time employees work at the site, he said.

Stanley, who is also a state representative for Waltham, made the Fernald announcement during the Monday, Feb. 25, City Council meeting. He said the idea recently emerged during a meeting with the Massachusetts Division of Capital and Asset Management. 

“What came out of the meeting I had… was really a new idea, a new concept from the state, which I believe is very intriguing and very interesting,” Stanley said. 

Stanley has asked Mayor Jeannette McCarthy to attend the Monday, March 4, Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall to give more details on the proposal.

McCarthy told Waltham Patch she was aware of negotiations about the site but could not comment further until the pending appeals are resolved.

Stanley made the announcement in the wake of little development with the disposition of the site. In October 2011, . 

DCAM could not be reached for comment. 

JJoseph February 27, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Thirteen residents and 93 workers, and the State wonders why we have financial problems. That is more than 7 workers for each resident. Wow! And we are talking about increasing State taxes? Go figure.
warrendalejimmie February 27, 2013 at 04:57 PM
looking forward to seeing what the town presents for a new use for that great piece of property...
moe howard February 27, 2013 at 06:05 PM
A new cemetery
soccer guz February 27, 2013 at 06:46 PM
wall-mart would be awsome!
Matt Carter February 27, 2013 at 08:10 PM
If this involves using Millions in Taxpayer $$$$ I am against it. We have buildings crumbling and departments falling apart with equipment breaking down daily in this city. Fund those things and then worry about making some "open space".
David Kehs February 27, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Matt, the hope is that this can be funded using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds. That money cannot be used for things like salaries or DPW equipment, but it can be used for open space. There was one key phrase in Councilor Stanley's remarks that was not included in this article. Councilor Stanley indicated that the price would be determined by "fair market value UNDER CURRENT ZONING". This has been the sticking point up until now. The zoning of the Fernald property is Conservation/Recreation. If a developer bought it, they would not be able to build houses, condos, apartments, Wal-Marts, or Starbucks. With the current zoning, the property isn't particularly valuable to a developer. Therefore, there is now some hope that the price will be reasonable.
Noto Traffic February 28, 2013 at 06:13 PM
I hope they don't put a golf course in there. I know they were thinking of putting one at Met State. I think the majority (I may be wrong) of Walthamites (the ones who have been here for 20 years of more - with the exception of a few elitist's - you'll get a kick out of that) would not be interested in a golf course. I believe they would be interested in something for the kids (remember kids - Waltham used to be a family town). Now it's all about businesses and condos.
Marie Daly February 28, 2013 at 07:11 PM
There is a large amount of contamination on the site. About 50% of the 71 buildings still contain asbestos. There is a large area where above-ground asbestos-covered steam pipes crumbled over the years. They are encapsulated now, but the ground is contaminated with asbestos. In addition, there is a lot of contamination in and around the power plant. The clean-up could cost as much as $10+ million. So any deal would have to take that amount off the top of the "fair market" value, or require the state to clean it up first. Also, the price should be based upon conservation/recreation zoning.
GrampaJoe February 28, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I think a golf course would be great. Incorporate a pitch and putt, arcade, bowling alleys and the youth of this city will have a place to go. Not to mention the added revenue that a golf course/driving range would generate for the City.
Don Cook March 01, 2013 at 01:35 PM
A fair market value sale is a slap in the face to the City of Waltham, whose taxpayers have been providing services to the property-tax-exempt Fernald for over a century. Even under Conservation zoning, those 71 buildings can be rehabbed and reused - it's a ready-made university campus and the value will be plenty high based on that kind of highest and best use. If Waltham buys it - and uses even more taxpayer money to fund the $20 million asbestos removal (and God knows what else) what will they do with it? Build a golf course (at taxpayer expense) that the taxpayers have to bail out when it starts losing money? 200 acres of soccer fields?? Rezone it and sell it off? The state should clean up this property (spreading the cost over 6 million taxpayers instead of 60,000) and incorporate it into Beaver Brook Reservation to create an outstanding State Park.
David Thomas March 04, 2013 at 03:16 AM
There is a proposal for a small portion of the property as Homes for Veterans. Some homes will be modified for our most vulnerable veterans our Wounded Warriors. The veterans will gain opportunity for employment as well as the ability to purchase at affordable housing prices. We are talking a limited area to develop ranch style 2 bedroom 1.5 baths singles in a small community setting. Our veterans children deserve the opportunity to live in peace and prosperity. The property is approximately 196 acres. United Estates HomesforVeterans would comprise of around 3 acres. This leaves the City of Waltham 193 acres. It is good for our veterans and the families of our veterans. It is good for the State and the City of Waltham and it's community. The small portion will be purchased and developed by veterans. Homes&JOBS for our veterans and families. Let us thank our veterans their children and families with "opportunity" for putting themselves on the line for our safety. It is a noble thing to do. DTD

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