A plan to clean up the former Medfield State Hospital site along the Charles River contaminated by a decades-old oil spill and construction debris is moving forward after town officials this week gave the project the nod.
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, June 18, unanimously approved the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance’s conceptual plan, which could take one and a half years to complete. The plan calls for cleanup of a 3.2-acre portion of the hospital site contaminated by old hospital construction and disposal debris, and of an 1,800-square-foot area along the river bank where sediment from a 1978 oil spill rests.
The plan also calls for demolition of three buildings at the hospital — which has been closed since 2003. The laundry, the Odyssey House and the Carriage House are in disrepair and will be taken down, according to the plan.Implementation of the plan and disposal of materials could cost the state an estimated $8.5 million.
The state first presented the plan to the public at a meeting June 6. However, it is not the first time DCAMM has proposed a cleanup plan of the state-owned site. A 2011 plan drew opposition from town officials, river organizations and residents, leading to the town’s request for mediation. The new plan is a result of the state and town joining forces to focus to find the best outcome for the site.
Following Tuesday’s selectmen approval, the next step is the permitting phase, said Assistant Town Manager Kristine Trierweiler. During the June 6 public meeting, officials said as the design process moves forward, residents will have an opportunity to add input.
Conceptually the plan includes moving excavated waste uphill away from the river, capping and containing it, then doing wetlands restoration, meadow creation and reconnection of the Bay Circuit Trail. A canoe launch is also planned.
The Charles River Watershed Association calls the new plan “significant departure from the initial plan offered in 2011.”
“This is a winning solution that will protect the Charles and restore this beautiful stretch of riverfront,” said Margaret Van Deusen, deputy director and general counsel for the association. “This cleanup will serve as a model for the future remediation of contaminated state lands along waterways.”
Abby Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org