Waltham Land Battle Headed to Mediation
Wednesday, December, 4, 2019
Mediation is up next for Waltham and the Trustees of the Stigmatine Fathers concerning the long-term legal dispute surrounding the land formerly owned by the religious order. The city wants to build a $375 million high school at the site.
The two sides are both on board with the mediation after state Superior Court Judge Diane Freniere suggested it.
Waltham is attempting to secure the 46 acres of land via eminent domain and has offered the Stigmatine Fathers $18 million for it.
The mediation comes as Waltham is dealing with pressure to resolve the legal matters related to the property and the risk it faces to lost $110 million in funding for the project from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. It was that agency that gave approval to Waltham to build the school on the Stigmatine Fathers’ property, but that approval was pending the city having full ownership, control, and exclusive use of the site.
The agency agreed in October that it would grant a third extension to the city’s deadline to resolve the matter and would have until the end of February 2020 to make it work. The new school would serve more than 1800 students in regular and vocational programs and would be the state’s most expensive school. It would also include a parking facility and an athletic field. The current high school is overcrowded, has outdated labs, and offer inadequate handicap access.
Judge Freniere decided the property had been under dispute long enough and stated, ““What I’m seeing up here is a mushroom cloud of many years of litigation. “[The Fathers] are off the property. That ship has sailed. Now let us move on to the next chapter. I implore you to seek a mediator. ”
The upcoming mediation is set for December 5th.