Tobin Montessori & Vassal Lane Upper Schools Project

The Cambridge Public Schools’ Innovation Agenda will result in the creation of four new upper school campuses serving students in grades 6 to 8. The Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, located at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, will be the third school to be redesigned.

Information for Neighbors & Community Members

August 23, 2018

Over the past several months, the City has been conducting a geotechnical and environmental investigation at 197 Vassal Lane in preparation of the construction of the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, and the Department of Human Services Programs.

Since the location of both the existing school and field was a former clay pit that was used as a municipal dump site, the school and field are regulated under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP). There is a Permanent Solution on the property with an Activity & Use Limitation (AUL) supporting its current use as a school and playground.

We were asked by the School Department to specifically consider whether it is feasible (or advisable) for the students to stay in the existing school during construction (as a “no-swing” space alternative). Our environmental consultants, CDM Smith, investigated this request and have provided a recommendation based on their results.

The conclusion of the analysis is a recommendation that students be relocated to a swing space so that the building is unoccupied during construction. This is based first and foremost on safety and public health concerns for students remaining within the site limits where remediation activities are being conducted associated with the former dump site. There are also additional impacts that may make it difficult for students to remain in the existing building. These are outlined in the summarizing memorandum under the "Documents" tab.

We are currently finalizing the complete report on the geotechnical and environmental investigation. When the report is complete, we will be scheduling a public meeting.

The next steps for the complex are to select a design team for the project and to conduct a feasibility study, understanding program needs, evolving siting options, and estimated costs in order to make a recommendation on the preferred alternative for the school. In the feasibility study, we expect to evaluate renovations to the existing facility or a portion thereof, or demolish and reconstruct on the existing location or in the field area. The designer selection process will begin in September.


July 11, 2017

As part of the process to redevelop the Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, a Concept Plan of a school layout shall be performed to determine the siting options to construct a new school facility. No decisions have been made on the location of the school, however geotechnical and environmental services are required to evaluate all siting options. These services will provide data for the future designer (architect) to evaluate all site options during a forthcoming Feasibility Study.

Generally, data will be collected by drilling test borings at key locations on the site, and shall include installation of groundwater monitoring wells to characterize and evaluate impacted groundwater and establish seasonal water elevation fluctuations. Environmental soil and groundwater analytical samples will be collected to evaluate the challenges of removal and/or capping of waste materials, and to evaluate how to remediate groundwater issues related to vapor intrusion during active construction and dewatering activities.

It is anticipated that this work will be completed by mid-year 2018.

In the coming weeks, you will begin to see activity in and around the Callanan Field area to perform environmental and site assessments. We expect to have these results later this summer and plan to schedule a community meeting in the fall to discuss the findings, next steps for the project, and solicit feedback from stakeholders.

While no decisions about the future Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools project, location, design, etc. have been made at this time, we encourage stakeholders to begin their involvement in the planning process by visiting the project website at www.CambridgeMA.gov/TobinSchool and signing up for our email distribution list for announcements and updates under the “Contact” tab on the project page.

Information and Assistance:
To receive future updates via email regarding this project, please contact Dan Riviello at driviello@cambridgema.gov or 617.349.4825. To view more information on this project such as updates, documents, etc., please visit www.CambridgeMA.gov/TobinSchool.


The Cambridge Public Schools’ Innovation Agenda will result in the creation of four new upper school campuses serving students in grades 6 to 8. The Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, located at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, will be the third school to be redesigned.

The Cambridge Public Schools’ Innovation Agenda will result in the creation of four new upper school campuses serving students in grades 6 to 8. The Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, located at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, will be the third school to be redesigned.

This project is currently in the information finding and planning stages.

The Cambridge Public Schools’ Innovation Agenda will result in the creation of four new upper school campuses serving students in grades 6 to 8. The Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, located at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, will be the third school to be redesigned.

Kate Riley

Community Relations Manager

Phone: 617-349-4870

Email: kriley@cambridgema.gov


Sign Up for Email Updates

Page was posted on 7/17/2018 9:52 AM
Page was last modified on 8/30/2018 1:24 PM
Provide Feedback

Got feedback?

Please provide your feedback below: