Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

Charles River Gateway Opens at Former Medfield State Hospital

Posted by Alexandra Ash

11/3/15 9:48 AM

Medfield Charles River Gateway

Last Friday, CRWA joined Medfield residents, the MA Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and The Trustees of Reservations to celebrate the opening of the Medfield Charles River Gateway located on the site of a 3.3 -acre landfill that was used as a dumping ground for 100 years by the Medfield State Hospital. The restoration removed contaminants from the shore and the river, restored wetlands and wildlife habitat, and enhances public access to the Charles River. The Gateway serves as a model of successful river restoration and demonstrates what citizen advocacy, cooperation, and creative thinking brings to environmental work.


Ribbon Cutting

Commissioner Sanchez and Commissioner Gladstone cut the ribbon opening the Charels River Gateway



Rain Gardens and Bioswales collect and treat stormwater

The original plan for the cleanup of the site proposed by DCAMM, the state’s property manager, in 2011 would have capped the hospital’s 3.2 acre hazardous waste dump along the Charles River leaving much of the debris in place. In addition, contaminated sediments in the Charles River would have been capped and left in the river. As this proposal would have done little to restore habitat, allow for recreation or protect the river, CRWA undertook advocating for a full restoration of the site. 


CRWA, along with The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) and ten Medfield citizens appealed a local wetlands permit to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). This appeal, along with vigorous activism by residents and DCAMM's recognition of the value of this environmentally sensitive riverfront land, resulted in a year-long mediation between the Town of Medfield and DCAMM. In 2013, the Town of Medfield and DCAMM agreed to a comprehensive restoration that would dredge contaminated sediments from the river, clean up the 3-acre dump and create the Medfield Charles River Gateway.


As part of the restoration, DCAMM cleaned up the landfill, dredged the petroleum-contaminated sediments from the Charles and excavated 30,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris and waste adjacent to the Charles River, restoring 3 acres of wetlands and riverine habitat. 


This project begins to restore natural hydrology to the site, one of the key principles of CRWA's Blue Cities Initiative. Rain gardens and bioswales collect stormwater runoff from the site, slowing down and cleaning the water before allowing it to filter into the ground or discharging it to the river. A reconstructed wetland at the site will be able to store 4.5 million gallons of water during a heavy storm, protecting downstream communities from flooding. These instances of green infrastructure will help watershed communities adapt to climate change while providing opportunities for recreation and wildlife habitat. 


View Photos


Topics: Charles River, Green Infrastructure, Pollution

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About Charles River Watershed Association:

One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last fifty years have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management.