GSA site cleanup in Watertown is a quarter complete


By Garrett Quinn Wicked Local Watertown

WATERTOWN — The engineers overseeing the remediation of the GSA property on Arsenal Street and Greenough Boulevard updated Watertown residents on the state of the project Thursday night at City Hall. The estimated $3.3 million project at the site of the former Watertown Arsenal is about a quarter of the way toward completion according to the lead contractors on the project, Charter Environmental.

The first phase of the project consisted of demolition and abatement of five structures on the property over the course of several months. This involved the disposal of hundreds of tons of construction debris including 631 tons of asbestos contained within the former military buildings. Additional hazardous materials like lead and PCBs were removed from the buildings during the abatement phase.

The next phase of the project, scheduled to begin in the spring, is the removal of two large concentrations of PCB contaminated soil located on the property. The installation of a soil cover will take place after the excavation of the impacted soil According to Mike Kunce of Charter Environmental the goal is to reduce the extent of the PCB contamination down to one part per million and essentially cap the rest. The tricky part, though, is this is taking place in a wetland zone.

“We are going to construct a wetland to mitigate and replace the area that is being covered,” said Kunce at the meeting.

The wetland will be constructed simultaneously with the excavation and removal of the PCB impacted soils on the opposite side of the property. Many Watertown residents raised concerns about what will happen to the property when the project is finished, particularly what kind of parkland will be built there.

Rick Corsi, the project manager for Department of Conservation and Recreation, told those present that a “passive park” would be installed on the property after the completion of the remediation.

“It’s something that’s meant to stroll through. It’s not ‘active.’ Active is playing fields, a playground, things like that, things that get beat up. A passive park is more walking, lay on the grass, a bench here and there. No organized sports,” Corsi said.

Corsi said he was happy so many were interested in the future of the project and that he understood the concerns of residents on the future of the property but it is just too early in the project schedule to talk about what the park will look like.

“The process works much better when the public is involved. Basically, you start from the bottom up,” he said.

Charter has established an FTP site for people to view documents and progress reports related to the project. The next public meeting on the project will likely take place in May.

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