After almost 10 years of delays and disputes, the town of Weston and Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum have settled a lawsuit and agreed on a nearly $14 million land deal, which will include Harvard paying for partial cleanup of portions of land that contain high levels of arsenic, according to a press release.
Last year, the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Weston, Mass., voted to file a lawsuit when Harvard allegedly failed to “remediate” contaminated portions of 62.5-acre Case Estates, which the University had agreed to sell to town, per the terms of a 2010 contract.
The property is located near the intersection of Ash, Wellesley, and Newton Streets in Weston. Harvard first acquired the property at the center of the dispute in the 1940s from Marian Case, for which the estate is named. The Arnold Arboretum made use of the land of the estate for gardens and educational facilities, according to to the Weston Town Manager’s website.
In 1985, the Arboretum sold 35.65 acres to the town of Weston and in 2006, voted to sell the remaining 62.5 acres as well. But as Weston was finalizing plans to finance the purchase, engineers examining Case Estates discovered high levels of pesticides and agricultural chemicals from before Harvard’s ownership, when the property was an apple orchard.
“I am pleased that Harvard and Weston are moving forward together in a collaborative spirit that underscores a collective commitment to land preservation, community uses, and education,” Arnold Arboretum Director William Friedman said in a statement.
One portion of the land known as the “Hillcrest Corridor” will be used for all agricultural and recreational purposes, and a 14-acre wooded part will be reserved for walking and biking, according to the press release. The rest of the property could be used for new home construction.
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