In November 2016, the Town secured a $1.6 million MassWorks Infrastructure Grant for the "daylighting" or unearthing of the Weymouth Smelt Brook, a tributary stream of the Weymouth Fore River and the historic boundary between the communities of Braintree and Weymouth.
This project will realign and unearth the Smelt Brook to create an open-air channel with an adjoining pedestrian plaza and viewing areas to the water below. The resulting public space will increase access to local businesses, create a new foundation for pedestrian activity in the Landing, and unlock an estimated $22 million in mixed-use development.
In November 2018, the Town secured an additional $604,000 in MassWorks funds to support Phase II of the Smelt Brook Daylighting Project. This phase will replace the existing subterranean culvert responsible for carrying the Smelt Brook beneath Commercial Street. Replacement of this culvert is critical to protecting both the public value of the daylighting project and future private investment in the Landing.
The Smelt Brook was buried in 1976 as part of a comprehensive flood mitigation project completed by the U.S. Army Crops of Engineers. Plans to daylight the brook began in 2003 when the Town agreed to uncover a portion of the waterway as mitigation for the MBTA Greenbush Commuter Rail. MassDEP issued a Chapter 91 License requiring that 150 feet of the Smelt Brook be unearthed and reconstructed as an open-air channel. In 2011, the Town chose the site of the abandoned Ye Old Brick Grill as the preferred location for the daylighting. The Town undertook permitting to demolish the building and was granted an easement by the property owner in exchange.
MassWorks funds will support the construction phase of the Smelt Brook Daylighting Project, including physically realigning and unearthing the stream, developing a pedestrian plaza with green space and viewing areas, and replacing 90 feet of crumbling culvert beneath Commercial Street. The Town hired BETA Group of Norwood to provide final design and project management services for the daylighting project. A construction contract was awarded to Maverick Construction Management Services, Inc. of Auburn in the fall of 2018.
Since announcing the project's first MassWorks Infrastructure Grant in 2016, over 160 new housing units and approximately 260,000 square feet of commercial space have been permitted in Weymouth Landing. With completion of the project, the Town hopes to further revitalize the village center by using an enhanced sense of place to attract new transit-oriented residents and turn a steady stream of commuters into shoppers.
MassWorks Infrastructure Program
The MassWorks Infrastructure Program is a competitive grant program that provides a robust and flexible source of capital funds for municipalities and other eligible public entities to complete public infrastructure projects that support and accelerate housing and job growth throughout the Commonwealth. The highly competitive 2016 MassWorks round generated 114 applications, requesting $287 million in grant funding. The Baker-Polito Administration awarded a total of 34 MassWorks grants, assisting 33 communities and supporting $1 billion in private investment.
Between 2015 and 2018, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded over $275 million in MassWorks funding to support 138 projects in 106 communities. MassWorks funding has been critical to the addition of over two million square feet of commercial space, approximately 10,000 full and part time jobs, more than 7,000 immediate housing units, at least 7,000 square feet of new public space, and 1,200 new hotel rooms.