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City charts a course of buy of Lot 1

City charts a course of buy of Lot 1

City Councilor George A. Darcy III, left, Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, center, and Joe Maguire of the Community Preservation Committee, check out a map before doing a site visit of a parcel of land the city is considering purchasing.

By Richard Conn/Daily News Staff
Daily News Tribune
Posted Nov 06, 2008 @ 12:57 AM

The Community Preservation Committee yesterday recommended spending $930,000 to buy roughly 6.5 acres on Trapelo Road.

The land is part of Lot 1, an undeveloped 54-acre parcel of the former Middlesex County Hospital campus. The other 47.5 acres lies in Lexington.

The cash to buy Waltham's portion would come from the city's Community Preservation Act fund, which can be used for open space and recreation, historical preservation and affordable housing.

The City Council must still approve the committee's recommendation.

Mayor Jeannette McCarthy applied for the money to purchase the land. She told members of the committee yesterday that the parcel could be left undeveloped or used for recreation.

The mayor said the spot was a key link in the Western Greenway, more than 1,000 acres of conservation land that runs through Lexington, Waltham and Belmont.

Ward 3 Councilor George A. Darcy III said Waltham's portion of Lot 1 is also important because it serves as a retention area for the Chester Brook watershed, and is key for flood control.

The land became available earlier this year, after lawmakers approved legislation transferring the 6.5 acres from the state Division of Capital Asset Management to the city of Waltham.

The bill, which was sponsored by state Rep. Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham, and co-sponsored by state Sen. Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, and state Rep. Peter Koutoujian, D-Waltham, stipulated that the land be sold to the city at fair market value.

The mayor said yesterday that because of a slumping economy she did not want to use city bond money to buy the property.

"I would not recommend that because of the unstable bond market," McCarthy said.

Before the committee took a vote on the request for Community Preservation Act cash, some of its members, as well as McCarthy and Darcy, toured the parcel, which is mostly wetlands.

The portion of Lot 1 in Lexington will also be protected from development after legislation earlier this year that transferred the 47.5 acres from the state Division of Capital Asset Management to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Richard Conn can be contacted at 781-398-8004 or
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