After five months of deliberating and waiting, the School Building Rehabilitation Committee voted Tuesday to move up to 4,000 cubic yards of excess dirt from the Avery School construction site to the Striar property.
But despite the decision, neighbors on Hazelnut Place and Whiting Avenue, who have dealt with the dirt for nearly two years, still aren't satisfied.
"It scares us to see what the final outcome is going to be, and that we are leaving it in your hands, and obviously we don't have a lot of trust in you because of where we are at right now," Whiting Avenue resident Jamie Simpson told the committee.
In October, construction crews cut down roughly 40 trees to make way for a total of 11,000 cubic yards of fill from the new Avery Elementary School project. The committee admitted they low-balled the amount of fill the project would generate.
"You punch 36 holes in the ground in a site that is five or six acres big, you're going to make errors in estimates, and that's what happened here," committee member Andrew Lawlor said.
The committee voted, along with the Parks and Recreation Commission, to utilize the Department of Public Works to move as much as 4,000 cubic yards to the Striar property for future use.
Joe Flanagan, DPW director, estimated the project would begin late this week and take anywhere from three to seven days. The DPW mapped out a route that would bring the dirt along the outskirts of Dedham.
The route takes the dirt from Whiting Avenue to River Street to Milton Street, through Boston, and finally onto Sprague Street to the Striar property near the Manor neighborhood.
Manor residents received a commitment from officials that the dirt has been tested for contaminants, and will be filtered for large pieces of debris.
"[The dirt] is not coming from the railroad bed itself. This is all material that is above the old railroad bed. But, the testing was done," SBRC chairman Michael Butler said.
Town officials praised the agreement, as they called it a major cost-savings effort. The SBRC had looked at options to move the fill out of town, but that would cost upward hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Parks and Recreation Commission knows it will need fill for any future project.
"This is a win-win for us. It is fill we will need to build that [Striar] access road," commission chairman John Maida said.
The SBRC also endorsed a grading plan that would leave the area of the old railroad bed relatively flat from property line to property line. While some neighbors have been outspoken about the eyesore of a dirt pile in their backyard, other have said it provides a bit of privacy that was taken away when the trees were cut down.
"Obviously you guys can't put in the 50-foot trees you took down," said Denice Kresker, Simpson's wife. "We still don't have the privacy."
The SBRC has to wait to hear how much the state will reimburse them for change order requests before they know how much is left in their contingency coffers, a pot of money they'll use to landscape the area where the dirt pile current sits.
The number of shrubs, trees and the alike and the amount of money dedicated toward replacing the lost trees is still up in the air, but committee members said they want to work toward a quick resolution before the project closes out next month.
Town Administrator William Keegan stuck by his commitment he made in October that the town would replace lost trees at a two-to-one ratio.
But abutters are still cautious.
"Trees are not going to cover much of anything for the next 15 years," Kresker said.