The weather-beaten face of the Area B-2 police station in Roxbury’s Dudley Square wears the marks of age. A coat of blue paint peels back to reveal a layer of white underneath, itself worn away to cold, bare concrete. The 38-year-old building doesn’t exactly look welcoming.
The city is looking to change that through a $31.2 million overhaul of the B-2 station, slated to begin this fall and expected to be completed in the fall of 2010.
“One of the first things we looked at with the community in the design of the new building was having lots of windows and an inviting entrance you can easily find,” said Laurie Pessah, deputy director of capital planning for the city’s Office of Budget Management.
Another key consideration was the building’s environmental impact. The capital construction project will replace the existing station with a new, “green” facility. To make room for the revamped and expanded station, the project will include the cleanup and rehabilitation of a contaminated “brownfields” site located on Washington Street, behind the B-2 building.
Phillip Lodge, 35, has operated a retail cart at the Dudley bus station across from B-2 since 1997. He said the cleanup effort and the potential effect the new station could have on the surrounding Dudley neighborhood fall in line with the station’s role as a protector of the community.
“That’s a beautiful thing,” Lodge said. “It will contribute to a greater cause, as far as the betterment of the planet.”
In 2007, Mayor Thomas M. Menino signed “An Order Relative to Climate Action in Boston,” making Boston the first U.S. city to officially require that “[a]ll new construction and major renovation of City facilities shall obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) … certification.” The U.S. Green Building Council rates buildings on four levels — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum — through the LEED program. The executive order requires city projects to earn at least Silver-level certification. Pessah said the city is shooting for the highest level possible.
But before the new B-2 police station can be built, the contaminated land must be rehabilitated to suit the construction. The 2.5-acre site has been tainted by hazardous industrial waste left behind when Modern Electroplating Co. Inc. abandoned its longtime Washington Street facility in 1995.
According to a grant application for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup funds now posted on the city’s Web site, Modern Electroplating was required to “cease operations and remove and dispose of all waste present at the facility” under the terms of a 1994 court order obtained by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
But by March 1995, the company “reportedly ran out of funds” attempting to comply with the order and left the site — and the “hundreds of drums, two-hundred vats and tanks, all containing a variety of plating and industrial waste” that still remained there.
Contamination does not in and of itself make the Washington Street location a so-called “brownfields” site; according to the federal government, the fact that it is the former site of an abandoned or commercial property that cannot easily be developed because of past contamination is what earns the designation.
According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), asbestos removal efforts are also underway at the site, and other contaminants will be removed, as well. The BRA’s Capital Construction Division has worked closely with local public health officials on rehabilitating the former electroplating facility.
“It was too expensive for any private groups to get this done, so the city had to take over,” said Paul Osborn, deputy director of capital construction at the BRA.
Stephen Healy, the project’s senior engineer and manager, said the BRA’s work cleaning up the site is about 50 percent complete. The City of Boston’s Property and Construction Management Department will take over near the end of the summer to begin construction, according to Osborn.
For his part, cart vendor Lodge said the developments at the construction site give the Boston Police Department an opportunity to lead the charge in environmental protection.
“We all need to start thinking this way,” he said.
“I’m really hoping the city does not move too quickly with the development,” said Khalida Smalls, a community organizer with Alternatives for Community and Environment. “If the community here right now is not involved in the development talk, then there is no way for them to talk about what they want.” More »
The ceremony also provided more evidence that Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s “Dudley Vision Project” is taking shape. The initial focus is the proposed new Area B-2 police station that will be relocated on the former Modern Electroplating site. The current station will be renovated to provide a variety of commercial options for developers. More »
Imagine a new Dudley Square, with a thriving farmer’s market at its center and bus routes crisscrossing underneath the streets, providing more efficient public transportation while easing the snarl of congestion and traffic. More »