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Lot 1 buy sparks debate

By Richard Conn/Daily News staff
Daily News Tribune
Posted Dec 09, 2008 @ 12:41 AM

Some said it was a vital investment to protect a precious parcel, while others said it was waste of money for land that would never be threatened by development.

In the end, the City Council last night voted 9-4 to use $930,000 from the city's Community Preservation Act fund to buy 6.5 acres on Trapelo Road - Waltham's slice of the former Middlesex County Hospital campus known as Lot 1.

A bill was moved by the Legislature earlier this year to transfer the land from the state Division of Capital Asset Management to the city of Waltham, allowing the city to buy the land at fair market value.

The other 47.5 acres of Lot 1 lies in Lexington. Another bill passed by state lawmakers transferred that portion from the state Division of Capital Asset Management to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Ward 6 Councilor Robert Waddick, who voted against the purchase said the parcel in Waltham would likely never be eyed by builders because its mostly wetlands. He added that the protection of the Lexington portion also limits the possibility that Waltham's portion of Lot 1 would ever be threatened by developers.

"The chances that this land will be be developed, in my opinion, is slim and none," Waddick said.

City Councilor at large and state Rep.Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham, who sponsored the bills for both parcels of Lot 1 in the House, said that if the council didn't approve the money to buy Waltham's section, the state would likely look to put the land back on the block.

"I firmly believe the state will move to develop this property if we don't act," Stanley said.

Councilor at large David Marcou, who also voted against setting aside the Community Preservation Act money, said that the city would be paying nearly a million dollars for "a swamp."

Marcou said the city instead needs to save its Community Preservation Act dollars to buy the land at the Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center - also on Trapelo Road - if the state ever declares the land surplus.

"We need millions of dollars in the near future to protect Fernald," Marcou said.

Ward 3 Councilor George A. Darcy III said it was important to preserve Waltham's section of Lot 1 because it is "a last linchpin" that links other protected parcels.

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