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Public hearing on Fernald site demolition plans in Waltham

The Waltham Community Preservation Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 8 on Mayor Jeannette McCarthy’s request to use $1.2 million in community preservation funds to demolish about 20 buildings on the Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center site.

The city acquired the 200-acre property from the state in December for $3.7 million, using about $2.7 million in city Community Preservation Act funds, following years of tumult and planning.

According to the application McCarthy submitted to the committee, the buildings — as well as some roadways, sidewalks, curbs, railings, fences, and parking lots — need to be removed in order to move forward with delineating the property’s wetlands and fully uncovering a stream to prevent neighborhood flooding.


“The ultimate goal,’’ McCarthy wrote in the application, “is to restore the land to its natural condition, i.e. pond for winter, fall, spring and summer open space and recreational use for the purposes for which CPA money was requested and granted.”

William Forte, the city’s building inspector, included a note in the application saying the buildings slated for demolition — including 10 cottages, four larger residential buildings, and the activity center, among others — “serve no useful purpose for the building department and in my opinion, for the city.”

McCarthy says in the application that the project should be substantially completed within 90 days after it gets the go-ahead.

The city has already put the project out to bid and chose Ramco Survey Stakes, Inc. of West Bridgewater to carry out the work for $799,000, with extra funds set aside for contingencies, according to city documents.

Some city councilors have balked in the past at using preservation funds for the property, noting that doing so limits what can be done at the site. Similarly, councilors have also balked in the past at using preservation funds to demolish buildings, such as the farmhouse on Warren Street’s Arrigo Farm.


The hearing on the demolition funds will be held at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers, according to the committee.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at