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The NMI/Starmet property at 2229 Main Street is a 46-acre site once operated by the defense contractor Starmet, formerly Nuclear Metals, Inc. (NMI). It is located in West Concord near the Acton border adjacent to the Thoreau Hills residential area; Thoreau Club/Camp Thoreau; Forrest Ridge/Black Birch residences; and Minuteman Arc. The site was placed on the EPA Superfund National Priorities List in 2001 due to contamination due to the facilities manufacturing activities. Starmet permanently abandoned the facility in 2011. Cleanup of the Site has been underway since the early 1980s, but after formal designations as a Superfund Site, EPA began working closely with the Town of Concord’s 2229 Main Street Committee and Citizens Research & Environmental Watch (CREW) to determine the extent of contamination and to develop a final cleanup plan for the site. A final remediation action plan and associated legal document (Record of Decision) was finalized in December 2019. The Consent Decree binding all parties and assuring funding of the cleanup was formalized earlier this year.
The cleanup plan will result in the clean-up of the site contamination to the strictest “residential standards”, protective of human health, which will allow for all possible uses - commercial, residential and other new uses. Detailed design of the remediation is underway and will continue for several years with another two to three years of construction work to implement the design. Any redevelopment of the Site is unlikely to begin for another 4-5 years. In total close to $250 Million will be spent to clean up the site for reuse by the community.
The Nuclear Metals/Starmet property Re-use Planning Committee (NSRC) was formed in Spring 2019 to assist the town with identifying ways to reuse 2229 Main Street for maximum public benefit. During summer and fall 2019, the Committee conducted outreach to town boards, committees, and community stakeholders and held two community forums on October 17, 2019 to gain insights into community ideas and input on the site’s future use. SKEO, a planning consultant hired by EPA, also has provided valuable information and analysis to inform reuse planning . Based on this input, the committee’s own deliberation, and feedback from the Concord Select Board, potential redevelopment in several reuse zones were defined (See Figure 1) and a preliminary concept plan for the site was formulated (See Figure 2).
The reuse zones include over 20 acres of open space (areas C-1, C2 and D) and up to 23.7 acres for potential development (areas A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-4).
The Reuse Master Concept that the NSRC has developed is a flexible framework. It has three components (see Figure 2) : (1) concentrating near-term (4-8 years from now) development on the A-1 site that previously housed the Starmet facility with potentially some combination of commercial/retail, light industrial/artisanal, residential and/or indoor recreational/community uses; (2) a large conservation area (reuse zones C and D) that could include nature trails connected to adjacent existing Town trails, and environmental education activities; and (3) the potential for further development on reuse zones A-2, A-3 and A-4 for Town benefit or other uses.
The NSRC has developed a variety of “straw-man” proposals for how the site could be re-developed within this framework. Ideas include the development of a large indoor recreation facility that also accommodates other municipal uses with some limited retail/commercial activity onsite. Another concept focused more on a large office/medical complex that would generate more revenue for the Town to offset any development expense. A third concept included a mixed-use development with commercial/retail activities on a ground-floor with loft-style artisan spaces and residential apartments on upper floors. The Committee will spend the summer exploring several aspects of how the Town could pursue any of these options including: institutional relationships for re-development (e.g. public-private partnerships versus long-term lease), financial impacts (e.g. tax revenue versus development costs for commercial versus municipal uses) and planning within current and/or future strategic needs (e.g. types of municipal needs and how they can be met on other sites such as Peabody, Harvey Wheeler or Keyes Road).
After numerous deliberations and in consideration of Town input and evaluation of unmet needs, the NSRC believes that redevelopment of reuse zone A-1 and conservation of reuse zones C are the best use for those areas. At this point, the Committee remains neutral on the potential development of the other reuse zones (A2, A3 and A4). Feedback is being sought on all issues and options.
The Committee is seeking specific community feedback on the following aspects of the Master Plan Concept but there is also room for open-ended comments at the end of this survey.
The NSRC is focusing near-term development opportunities in the previously developed reuse zone A-1 and have brainstormed several potential concepts for redevelopment after the cleanup is completed in about 4-5 years’ time.
What do you see as the best redevelopment uses of zone A-1? (Check all that apply)
There is demonstrated need and further benefits to providing a greater diversity of housing options at various price levels for Concord. In addition to housing classified as “affordable,” Concord is also lacking in more accessible types of housing, such as workforce housing for town employees (e.g. police, teachers, etc.) and agricultural workers, housing for downsizing seniors, and starter homes for younger families. The NSRC estimates that approximately 30 housing units could be accommodated on A-3, perhaps 40 on A-2 or up to 80 on A-4 and that A-1 could hold up to 200 apartment-style units on upper floors.
Should housing be considered for part of A-1, or other sites (A-2, A-3, or A-4) knowing that while A-1 and A-3 were contaminated they will be cleaned up to strict residential standards?
If you answered yes, what do you see as appropriate types of housing on A-1 or other sites? (Check all that apply)
Reuse zones C-1 and C-2 include hilly terrain with a large percentage of wetlands that is not suitable for development, while also hosting a diverse range of wildlife and natural habitat that may be ideal for preserving as open space. Given the area’s proximity to surrounding Town-owned nature trails, it could also support integration into an expanded trail network and host a nature viewing area suitable for outdoor education activities.
Do you agree that reuse zones C-1 and C-2, which constitute a large fraction of the site, be conserved and available for enjoyment of the natural resources afforded by the Sphagnum Bog and forested areas? Chose one response only.
An important near-term issue that impacts the remediation design is to decide the best use of zone A-2. The site cleanup requires that contaminated soil be excavated from various parts of the site and replaced by clean fill. The fill would either be brought in from offsite sources via several thousand truck trips (with the attendant pollution and/or traffic) or from the excavation and use of clean soil from zone A-2 with a far smaller need for external sources of fill. The A-2 area is a clean undisturbed wooded hill. To the extent that the hill is excavated and leveled, the Town could reduce US government expense and environmental impact of transport fill from other locations to the site. If the Town wants to preserve all of A-2 in its current undisturbed condition, then the remediation design must plan for other sources of fill.
What parts of A-2 should be utilized as a partial source for clean fill for the site? Chose one response only.
The 2018 Envision Concord Long-Range Plan and the 2014 Recreation Facilities Strategic Plan both prioritize open space and recreational facility projects that ensure diverse and equitable improvements and programming for the community as whole.
Should outdoor recreational uses be considered for reuse zones A-2, A-3 and/or A-4?
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