For years we’ve heard from the administration that it’s necessary to close the Glavin Regional Center and three other developmental centers in Massachusetts because the centers have become too expensive to operate.
But if these closures are about saving money, why has the administration agreed to essentially give away 69 acres of state land at Glavin to the Town of Shrewsbury? In agreeing in August to lease the land to the town for $1 a year for the next 25 years, the state will forego potentially millions of dollars it would have gotten from the sale of that land.
Our main question really is this: Why has the administration reached this deal with the town outside of what would normally be a formal and deliberative process to determine the best options for reuse of the land? The 69 acres, which include soccer fields and farmland surrounding the Glavin Center, comprise at least 62 percent of the total Glavin campus.
For the past eight years, the state has been involved in a painstaking and often contentious reuse process with the City of Waltham over the 200 acres at the site of the Fernald Developmental Center, which has also been targeted for closure. That process has brought parties from all sides to the table, and has involved public hearings and a report by a planning consultant.
No such reuse process has yet occurred at Glavin, and yet a decision has already effectively been made about the disposition of a majority of the acreage at that site. It’s a decision, moreover, that is a great financial deal for the Town of Shrewsbury, but not for the state, which is supposedly so strapped for cash that it has had to evict what were hundreds of longtime residents of the developmental centers from their homes.
Here by the way, is what Governor Patrick had to say this past May about the reuse process at Fernald:
Everybody’s on it (the Fernald reuse process). All the interests, all the factions, and that’s how it should be. I know the city has expressed interest in buying it (a portion of the Fernald land). I don’t think the state’s in a position to give it away. But I think selling to the city, some or all of it, is certainly an option.
So, the state is not in a position to give away any of the Fernald land, yet it is in a position to give away the Glavin land? And why, in the case of Fernald, are all the interests at the table whereas, in the case of Glavin, the only interests at the table were the state and the town?
Both Glavin and Fernald have been targeted by the administration for closure, over the objections of most of the family members and guardians of the residents of those facilities. The administration has repeatedly claimed to the Legislature that it would save up to $40 million a year in closing the Fernald, Glavin, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers. Yet the administration and other opponents of the centers have repeatedly opposed an independent study of the cost of closing those facilities.
The $1 lease arrangement at Glavin stems from a home rule petition that was presented by Shrewsbury to the state Legislature in May. The lease involves both a 15-acre tract that has housed town soccer fields for many years and a 54-acre tract of farmland. The Legislature approved the lease and the governor signed the bill in August.
We’re not opposed to preserving the land at Glavin as farmland or as soccer fields. But we question why this lease arrangement for 69 acres of land was done outside of a formal disposition process for the land and why it was done in such a seeming hurry.
We’ve filed Public Records requests with the state for records concerning plans for the reuse of the Glavin property. We’d like to know what’s going on.