Thursday, 4:30 PM
Fernald supporters jubilant at court hearing on recommendation center remain open
By Emily Sweeney, Globe Staff
Supporters and families of residents of the Fernald Development Center applauded when Judge Joseph L. Tauro walked into a federal courtroom today to hear US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan present his report on a year-long investigation into whether the center should remain open.
The mood was jubilant as Sullivan read the report, released yesterday, which said, "our office has concluded that some of residents at Fernald could suffer an adverse impact, either emotionally or physically, if they were forced to move from Fernald."
Sullivan recommended that Fernald should remain open to provide services to the "most vulnerable" people in the Commonwealth, and that the residents of Fernald should be allowed to stay there if they choose.
The state Department of Mental Retardation and the lawyer representing Fernald residents will formally respond to the 27-page report at the next court hearing, scheduled for May 31.
Marilyn Meagher, whose sister, Gail, has lived at Fernald since 1956, said she was pleased with Sullivan's report, but wishes the issue could have been resolved sooner.
"I'm disappointed that we have to wait until the end of May, but I still think it's positive," she said.
Speaking to the lawyers representing the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation, Tauro said the state shouldn't be hurrying longtime residents of Fernald out the door in order to sell off the land.
Fernald residents "ought to be allowed to stay," said Tauro. " Someone should hold off from making houselots out of all the acres [the Fernald campus has] up there."
"Why are we pushing them out the door? The land isn't going to get less valuable," he said.
Both sides -- the state as well as the families -- praised the work that Sullivan's office put into the investigation.