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WALTHAM, MA-Eight years after a re-use plan was developed for the site, the former Metropolitan State Hospital’s 338-acre site will finally be divided among this town, Belmont and Lexington. But the years have taken their toll on the hospital buildings and it is unclear if they will be salvaged.

A Waltham official tells GlobeSt.com that the town plans to put a golf course on its portion of the land. According to Tim Higgins, a planner for Belmont, most of the land in his town is wetlands and will be preserved as open space, under the jurisdiction of the state’s Metropolitan District Commission. Lexington is getting the bulk of the hospital’s 20 buildings and Higgins tells GlobeSt.com that the buildings are slated for redevelopment as affordable housing, according to the re-use plan.

But Higgins points out that when the plan was developed in 1994, the buildings were less dilapidated. Now, they are “in pretty rough shape. The rehab costs would be pretty high,” he says. “Once the heat shuts off, the roofs freeze and crack and you get extensive water damage. It’s very difficult to fix. It would have been better if the process was expedited rather than allowing them to fall into such disrepair.”

The fact that this process to release the land took so long is not surprising to Higgins, although he acknowledges, “most people were probably disappointed that it took so long.” Foxborough State Hospital, located roughly 25 miles south of Waltham in Foxborough, MA, began disposing of its land in 1994 and that process is still not completed.

Glenn Garber, planning director for Lexington, tells GlobeSt.com that in this case the process took so long because the state was building a roadway on the land and the towns had trouble agreeing on where the access to the roadways would be. As to the hospital buildings in Lexington, Garber says that the state plans to sell them to a private developer to develop mixed-use housing.

The assumption when the re-use plan was written was that the buildings would be rehabilitated but Garber acknowledges that that is unclear now. “It’s a tough issue,” he says. “Developers want to demolish them but they are hoping the state will participate.” Demolishing the buildings could get costly because of asbestos and lead issues. Some of the buildings are also on the National Register and will need clearance before they can be destroyed.

The state plans to send out requests for proposals for the buildings later this year.

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