Automobile dealership owner Herb Chambers, Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston, and Brickbottom Lofts resident Peter Marquez wielded sledgehammers at an event celebrating the demolition of a waste transfer station in Somerville Monday. Photo by Brock Parker.
With a little flair, Somerville has begun demolishing a waste transfer station near Union Square that neighbors say brought years of rodent and odor problems to the area.
“Somebody give me a sledge hammer now, because I’d love to bring this monstrosity down myself,” said Mayor Joe Curtatone at what the city called a “wallbreaking ceremony” Monday.
Some city employees dressed up in costumes as different characters, such as Wreck-It Ralph, for the ceremony at the transfer station off Poplar Street next to McGrath Highway.
The city also had a band playing live music for the event before neighbors and officials ceremoniously swung sledgehammers at a pile of bricks already knocked from a wall of the doomed building.
The city-owned property in the Brickbottom area was used for years as a waste transfer station by Waste Management before closing over the summer—more than a year after the city first notified the company that it intended to terminate its lease. Waste Management stored trash from neighboring communities, such as Cambridge, before hauling it to other sites for disposal.
The city is hoping to redevelop the property, and S&R Corporation began work Monday to tear down the transfer station.
Herb Chambers, who owns the Mercedes-Benz dealership on McGrath Highway next door to the transfer station said the facility smelled and brought rats to what he considers the gateway to Somerville.
“We’re so happy to see it go,” Chambers said.
Somerville Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston said the demolition will unleash the future of the area, and she’s happy that the trash trucks no longer go through the neighborhood to the transfer station.
Curtatone said the location has a lot of potential with the MBTA’s Green Line train service extending into Somerville and the state studying grounding McGrath Highway and creating a boulevard in its place. He said the city’s comprehensive plan is targeting the area for smart growth that would include businesses and residential development.
“We’re celebrating what is to come,” the mayor said to guests who attended the wall breaking ceremony Monday.
Curtatone said the city is working with artists and representatives from the nearby Brickbottom Lofts to find a temporary use for the property once the demolition work is completed and the long term future for the site has been decided.
Peter Marquez, a resident of the Brickbottom Lofts, said a committee has been set up to discuss some uses for the property, such as a market or location for urban agriculture.