Forty-six acres for the taking – the potential for 2229 Main St.

By Paul Boehm and Gary Kleiman
February 23, 2023

The Town’s 2018 long range plan, Envision Concord: Bridge to 2030, identified a wide range of Town needs, including additional open space, recreation, sustainable and affordable housing as well as commercial development that supports the Town’s economic vibrancy and diversity goals. 

Yet many of these private, municipal, and commercial needs are hampered by lack of affordable and available space. There are very few places in Town, if any, where larger development opportunities are feasible. There is certainly nowhere in Town where one can identify 46 acres available to the Town within the next few years for possible municipal and/or commercial use: nowhere except 2229 Main Street.

The property at 2229 Main Street (also known as the NMI or Starmet site), was used for 30+ years as a manufacturing site until it was abandoned in 2011. Cleanup of pollution at that site began even earlier, in about 1980, under the leadership of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and continues to this day as part of the U.S. EPA’s Superfund program. The Town has had extensive inputs into the cleanup goals, plans, and processes. 

The cleanup plans are based on solid science. We have monitored progress closely through Town committees and citizens groups. As a result of the many years of hard work and efforts by numerous Town staff and volunteers, the U.S. EPA and responsible parties (98% of which are U.S. government agencies) have agreed to meet the most stringent cleanup goals (so-called “Residential Standards”). Cleaning to these protective standards enables use of the site for almost any possible future need. When the cleanup is completed, in the next 3 – 4 years, well over $200 million will have been spent in one of the most comprehensive and expensive cleanups of its type ever undertaken.

Over half the site, including a unique natural resource, a Sphagnum bog adjacent to an existing Town trail system (Powder Mill Woods), and a wooded hill area adjacent to Minuteman Arc and overlooking Main Street, were never used for manufacturing or waste disposal. The rest of the site is being aggressively remediated by the responsible parties under the watchful eyes of the U.S. EPA and the Town. Details on the cleanup and site history can be found at ( 

This leaves a tremendous opportunity in Concord’s future; however, there are a few logistical and planning hurdles that remain to be worked out before the Town can take advantage of this extraordinary potential. The U.S. EPA and legal structures put in place by the U.S. Congress have provided guidance and made it relatively easy and liability-free for municipalities like Concord to acquire and reuse sites like 2229 Main Street.

The Reuse Report and Recommendations

The Town voted in 2015 to authorize the Select Board to acquire the site after cleanup was largely complete. To assist the Select Board in in their deliberations before recommending next steps toward possible acquisition and reuse, a committee was formed (the NMI/Starmet Reuse Planning Committee or NSRC). Our work over 24 months resulted in a comprehensive report that was completed in 2021 ( In that report, the committee gave initial, informed guidance on acquisition strategies as well as providing many examples of beneficial reuse of such sites by other Towns and municipalities for developments ranging from parks to active recreation, to housing or commercial development. 

The NSRC report was anchored in several workshops and community fora where the public weighed in on possible uses of the site to meet a variety of needs as well and aspirations for the future. The NSRC was guided by a set of principles consistent with the Town’s values and those guiding other reports (e.g., Envision Concord) and strategic plans – including the need for multiple integrated uses onsite, environmental stewardship, fiscal sustainability, and achieving community synergy. 

The final report provided an initial blueprint for thinking about the value of the site to meet Town needs. It is time to act on that blueprint and to start the next phase of planning for the site’s future. 

What comes next

While the pandemic intervened in the planning process, the Select Board is now reengaging to consider the path forward for possible acquisition of the site. They are formulating a charge for a new 2229 Main Street committee to continue and expand on the previous work and to advise the Select Board and the Town Manager on risk communication, acquisition pathways, and reuse potential to meet Town needs. The public also needs to be re-engaged in discussions related to the site and how best to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Town to address its needs and to plan for the future. 

Paul Boehm and Gary Kleiman are the former co-chairs of the NMI/Starmet Reuse Planning Committee.