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Repurposing of Contaminated Municipal Properties

Municipalities have several options when trying to determine the future of contaminated former industrial and landfill sites. While many remediation projects are intended to create developable land and reuse a site for commercial or residential purposes, a town or city might also choose to keep the land publicly available as park space. In other cases, a municipality might find previously unknown contamination at an existing public space, necessitating remediation and possibly redevelopment of that area. Through remediation and redevelopment of contaminated properties, communities can benefit from open space amenities, while also benefiting environmentally from the site’s cleanup.

Our multi-disciplinary team works with clients across the Northeast on a range of creative options for contaminated property-to-park redevelopment. Our team of environmental consultants includes Licensed Site Professionals (LSP), Licensed Environmental Professionals (LEP), and Professional Geologists (PG) who specialize in site investigation and remediation. Our in-house landscape architecture studio Halvorson | Tighe & Bond Studio collaborates with our environmental consultants and engineers to design holistic solutions to unlock each site’s potential.

Some examples of our work include:

Waltham, MA: Former Woerd Avenue Landfill

We are currently working with the City of Waltham on the closure and park conversion of the former Woerd Avenue Landfill. Closure of the landfill involved the installation of ten gas monitoring wells, followed by regular gas monitoring as well, as monitoring of surface and groundwater. Our team collaborated with the City and local residents on an approved concept which creatively uses the landfill’s elevation to create vantage point views of downtown Waltham and Boston. When complete, the park will be the largest in the City, and will provide residents with new recreation facilities including a dog park, skate park, and courts for basketball, tennis, and pickleball.

Salem, MA: McGrath Park & Gallows Hill Park

Our firm has worked closely with the City of Salem on the remediation of two contaminated sites:

McGrath Park, a popular youth soccer venue, was closed after soil testing revealed elevated levels of chemicals at the site, which was formerly used as a burn dump. After providing site assessment and remediation services, we led the redesign and reconstruction of park facilities.

Improvements to the site are mostly completed, and included a reconstructed soccer field, new basketball court, new playground areas, an increase from 60 to 130 parking spaces, and a reconstructed stormwater drainage system. Additional remediation efforts are ongoing, with enhanced passive uses soon to be added.

In 2018, Gallows Hill Park was partially closed to the public after a subsurface investigation performed revealed that soil in parts of the park were contaminated by elevated levels of arsenic. Further research indicated that the park site was formerly the home of a tannery dating back to the 1800s. We prepared a cleanup plan, as well as designed a renovation to the Mansell Field area. In 2023, we worked with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) on the cleanup of “hot spots” with elevated levels of contamination on the property.

In 2024, the City will contract separately with a remedial contractor for the cleanup of the remaining portions of the site per our design and under LSP observation, which will involve consolidation and capping the remaining soil contamination under a new multi-use field area. Once complete, this park will once again be fully accessible to residents of Salem, as well as provide improvements including new trees, benches, and an ADA-accessible walking path.