On a rainy, nasty Saturday a few weeks ago I and 100 others attended the Medfield State Hospital Visioning Workshop. It was great!
Having no idea of what this workshop would be like, I felt some uncertainty, but was also eager to learn more about the status of the property and thrilled to be able to suggest my vision to the MSH Advisory Committee.
This workshop was well organized, well attended and highly informative; the MSH Committee should be commended for all their hard work preparing for this workshop and for offering this to the public. I hope the people in attendance went away with much information and have been “spreading the word” about the ideas proposed, i.e. the vision, and the decisions that we, the voters of Medfield, will need to make, very soon, in determining the future of the Medfield State Hospital property.
Dictionary.com defines vision as, “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be” and that is exactly what this workshop was focused on.
The visioning within this workshop was to assist the dedicated and hard working committee in determining what the townspeople would like to see happen on this land, if in fact, the Town of Medfield chooses to purchase it.
After a full day of information and discussion, the ideas, suggestions and vision all came down to one thing….Control!
Saying “YES” and buying this property will give the town control as to its future and having the control of what will eventually be there is quite important. The Town of Medfield, based on this visioning and guided by many other highly trained professionals, will be allowed to proceed with a plan of what should, indeed, be built, reused, restored and demolished on these parcels.
If we have control, and if we choose to have it developed with small retail shops, professional offices, single family homes, apartments, 55 and over housing, 40B housing, open space areas, recreation areas and whatever else seems appropriate, we get to decide. If the townspeople vote NOT to purchase these parcels, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will decide what to put there, and we will have no say in what they choose to do! It is also quite possible, that the cost to us in taxes and otherwise will be much greater if the State owns and controls the future of this land. I can only hope that will not be the case.
It was obvious to me that having the Commonwealth give us this opportunity to purchase the land for 3.1 million dollars, after many years of not offering this, will most likely be the one and only time this option will be available.
In addition to what seems like the practical side of why we should purchase this property there is also the historical and aesthetic aspect.
Dictionary.com defines art as, “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance”.
I have taken many walks around the MSH grounds and I see beauty! Yes, there are abandoned buildings, crumbling cement walkways, overgrown trees and many other “first glance” negative aspects, but I see the beauty of the craftsmanship and design of the brick buildings, the unique “mirrored” layout of the quad area and the beauty of the landscape in its entirety!
My favorite building is the Clock Tower Chapel and it was a favorite at the workshop, as it was mentioned by almost every group that spoke. Ideas of restoring it and finding a community purpose for it was frequently suggested. It is eye catching and stately. It acts almost as a compass, giving you a focal point and a sense of direction when walking through the maze of pathways on the grounds in and around the buildings. I have not had the opportunity to go inside the Chapel, but have seen some photos of the interior, taken by Richard DeSorgher, on the mshvision.net website and it has so much potential!
The buildings are over 100 years old, but their brick facades and their slate roofs are a thing of beauty to me. After attending the workshop and listening to the many ideas and suggestions of those people in attendance, I have hope that good things can come of the Medfield State Hospital grounds, if the people of Medfield are willing to go forward and purchase that land.
Hopefully word will spread of this important mission, and voters will become fully aware of a huge decision which will soon be upon them to decide (at a Special Town Meeting most likely in March) to purchase 2 parcels of land at the old Medfield State Hospital grounds. In a nutshell, Parcel A includes all the current buildings, and Parcel B is mainly the sledding hill and the footprint of one building.
I encourage everyone to get involved. Check out the mshvision.net website, touch base with any member of the MSH Advisory Committee (listed on their website), and become educated on this decision. These grounds are an important part of Medfield’s history, and they are just as important today.