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Letter: Keep Political Agendas Out of State Hospital Cleanup

Medfield resident and concerned citizen, Rosemary O’Brien responds to recent comments in the Medfield Patch article "Senator Timilty Takes Medfield State Hospital Issue to Governor."

To the Editor of Patch,

I am writing in response to comments made on the Medfield Patch article, “” on May 1, 2012. Paul, Alden, and Lee Ann are trying to politicize this issue.

The state hospital remediation and renovation should not be an election issue between Senator Timilty and Jeff Bailey. They both support the cleanup of the C&D site. There is far more at stake than that. I think we can all agree that up until this point in the project, it was not necessary to get our elected officials involved, but we are trying to prevent DCAM from implementing a cheap fix – i.e., a partial cleanup that may have adverse environmental consequences down the road.

The collective energy of some spent on posting repeated negative comments about our elected officials, and specifically Timilty, would be better spent helping those individuals, including Bill Massaro, John Harney, Leo Surrette, and others, who have tirelessly and voluntarily given their time over the past 10-plus years as “citizen overseers,” along with selectman Pete Peterson, to this complicated remediation and redevelopment project.

Over the years, many of us, including myself, have relied on Bill and the others to do the “heavy lifting” for us. It’s nice to see that Bill is finally getting a little help from the Concerned Citizens Group and others.

For those of you that, by your own admission, are new to Medfield, please take the time to gain an understanding of the breadth and complexity of the environmental issues and both the setbacks and the progress (yes, there has been substantial progress) at the site to date. However, most of that progress has been on land the state wants to sell for development. 

The complete clean-up of the C&D area is the most significant remaining environmental issue. The same kinds of hazardous fill material on land for development was cleaned up 100 percent, in 2011, but on land alongside the Charles River and in the aquifer of our main well, the state is determined to proceed with leaving 85 percent of the same kinds (and some worse) contaminants there.

Repeated comments by a poster named "Lee Ann" about there being more than enough time to tear the buildings down and rebuild are just unreasonable and reflect a lack of understanding of the issues.

The state promised the town that it would clean up the hazardous waste on the property before putting the buildings and core campus up for sale and their "comprehensive" investigations to completely identify all of the issues only began in 2009.

They submitted their final draft report on March 22, showing the completion of cleanup on the land to be sold, along with the final report on the C&D Area and Power Plant Area, which are going to be left to future generations of abutters, town residents and recreational users. With the proposed C&D partial cleanup, they have not kept their promise.

In a comment to a Patch article in April, "Lee Ann" went so far as to say it could have been done three times over in 10 years. I would like to know the basis for these statements. Is there professional experience to back up these claims?

I’ve been told by Bill Massaro that the average time for redevelopment of a hospital after closing is in the neighborhood of 15-20 years and this is, I believe, without the environmental issues we are facing. Bill recently and aptly said that we will live with whatever gets done in the land and with the buildings forever, so what's the rush? The word is "perpetuity."

We only get to do this once, might be nice to try to do it right ... the first time.

Again, the issues at the hospital property are many and complicated. As a 24-year resident (and also as an environmental engineer) who lives close to the site and walks there a few times a week, I can attest to frustration at the deteriorating condition of the buildings and grounds but also note slow but steady progress in some areas.

Please keep the politics out of this important issue and get involved or at least be informed.

Regards,

Rosemary O’Brien
Stony Brook Road, Medfield
A Concerned Citizen

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