Despite Dirt Vote, Avery Neighbors Still Worried

The town will move up the 4,000 cubic yards of fill from the Avery construction site to the Striar property.


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, 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 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 , 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 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.

Concerned Citizen March 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM
If it was going to cost the SBRC $500K to move the soil out of Dedham, is it free to move it to a different location in Dedham? You still need the man power and trucking to accomplish the job. So, where does the money come from? Are we now paying for it out of the DPW budget? So the SRBC is off the hook for a $500K mistake? I don't think it evens out just because it's "Dedham" money. I voted for a new Avery school at a specific cost. I voted to purchase the Striar property for future development, also at a specific cost. So, we as tax payers are just supposed to accept the incompetence of the SBRC and go along with the new deal as described as a "win win"?
Avon Barksdale March 25, 2012 at 09:52 PM
The plan that "you voted for" included contingency budgets for all aspects of the construction process. So no, you didn't vote for a new Avery school at a specific cost. If you had even the slightest clue of what you're talking about, you would know that the SBRC had to predict against a wide variety of factors, including such things as materials costs (seen what the Chinese market is doing to the price of steel lately), finding unexpected debris upon excavation, and yes, fill volume and removal cost. The ratio spent on the overall project versus the original estimates/allocations is remarkably close to 1:1 for a large-scale, multi-year municipal construction project. And the building is both beautiful and fantastically functional. Your assessment of the SBRC as "incompetent" is roughly equivalent to that fill pile if it consisted solely of manure.
Concerned Citizen March 26, 2012 at 08:18 PM
So, you're saying that the new Avery came in on budget? Then where's the $500k to move the soil? There was no "unexpected debris" found. This wasn't an unexpected or unforeseen issue. It was a several hundred thousand dollar mistake to think that they could just keep it on site.
Avon Barksdale March 27, 2012 at 01:26 AM
No, I'm not saying it came in on budget. And I didn't say they found unexpected debris, I said that that was one of a host of factors they had to predict against. I hope they focus on reading comprehension to the next generation of Avery students, this town could use it.


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