PROJECT OF THE YEAR: Environment $10 Million - $100 Million

Landfill Closure in Brookline, Massachusetts

Managing Agency: Town of Brookline, Massachusetts
Primary Contractor: E.T.& L. Corp.
Primary Consultant: Camp Dresser & McKee Inc.
Nominated By: APWA New England Chapter

Project of the YearThe Town of Brookline, Massachusetts’ Landfill Closure project is an excellent example to municipalities throughout the United States under mandates to meet the regulatory requirements for capping inactive landfills while maintaining vital public works uses and developing active recreational facilities. The Town undertook an intensive public land-use planning process that involved three separate neighborhoods, several conservation groups that owned parts of the landfills or directly abutting land, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

In 1997, the Town of Brookline commenced a process to address the capping of two landfill sites located on Newton Street in Brookline, and to evaluate the highest and best use for the sites, post-closure. The Town recognized that the Front and Back landfills were incredible public assets and presented a rare opportunity to create new parkland. The project required significant public input through the Town’s formal park facility approval process administered by the Park and Recreation Commission. The Town submitted and received an Urban Self Help Grant and worked with private donors to raise additional funding to construct a synthetic turf field on top of the landfill site.

The unique part of this project was the corrective action around 24 private homes located near the edge of one of the landfills. Most of the homes were owned by long-term senior residents of the community. This was a very sensitive and complex situation that facilitated a tremendous amount of personal communication from the DPW staff. Staff met with sons and daughters of some residents trying to help their parents make a clear decision as to how to proceed. Meetings took place at night and in their homes when necessary. This personal effort resulted in a winning situation for the abutters and the Town, resulting in successful agreements without legal action.

After 10 years, the Town was pleased to celebrate the grand opening of a new 15.15-acre community park on the former Front landfill site—the first park addition to the Town’s open space inventory in over a quarter of a century. Skyline Park includes active and passive recreation amenities for all ages and abilities. The park provides the first Town athletic field suitable for high school soccer tournaments, playground structures for older children and tots, picnic areas, a comfort station, restored wetlands, scenic walking trails and connections to the once-isolated conservation areas owned by the Town of Brookline, City of Newton and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As the project drew to completion, the new synthetic field was broken in by the Brookline High School Varsity Soccer Team. All involved were pleased with the outcome and the steps taken to develop a resolution for this environmental concern, relying strongly on public involvement.