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Eating disorder clinic may move from Waltham to Framingham

Posted by John Swinconeck  May 10, 2013 03:40 PM

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An eating disorder treatment center may open at the site of a former Catholic retreat center in Framingham, if the town's zoning board gives its approval.

In a press release, Walden Behavioral Care, a limited liability, for-profit company, announced it is proposing an 80-bed treatment center at the former Marist Retreat Center on 518 Pleasant St. The organization has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement to purchase the property from The Marist Fathers of Boston, pending approval of its plans.

Walden would move its corporate headquarters, and much of its staff and treatment facilities, from its current location in Waltham. It would continue to operate its 40-bed psychiatric services in Waltham.

Walden will need approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit, because the area is a single-family residential zone.

ZBA Administrator Eugene Kennedy said on Friday that a public hearing on the application will be held June 18.

"The process is just beginning, " Kennedy said. "There will be full public discussion through the zoning board."

In a written statement Walden President and CEO Stuart Koman said, "Walden has always prided itself on being a friendly neighbor and important contributor to the local communities we serve. We are working hard to ensure that this opportunity provides the same experience and benefits."

According to Koman, a Walden facility in Framingham would provide the town with benefits, such as adding to the local tax base, a workforce of 136 employees, and internship opportunities for Framingham State students. The company also touted the benefits of having a local eating disorder facility serve the local population that will also provide outreach to schools to educate students about eating disorders.

The former Marist Retreat Center consists of 37.5 acres bordering the Mass. Pike and spans both sides of Route 30, on which sits a 45,000 square-foot retreat center known as the Marist House, a 5,000 square-foot residence hall called Bishop's Hall, and a pond. The Marists had lived there for 72 years when the six remaining Marist fathers and brothers left the property and moved to Waltham in 2011.

Walden plans to renovate the two buildings in 2015 and add new buildings in 2016. The Marist House will be renovated to house 24 beds for patients with eating disorders and 24 beds for patients with mood disorders, as well as offices for 20 Walden staff.  The adjacent Bishop's Hall will be converted to offices for 10 employees.

The first phase of new construction will include a 16-bed, 12,000-square-foot residential facility to treat adults who are obese and a 16-bed, 6,000-square-foot facility for adolescents.  The second phase will include construction of a 10,000-square-foot building for program offices, and intake and aftercare services.

Contact John Swinconeck at johnswinc@gmail.com.

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