Both criticism and praise over Waltham’s amusement park plan

By Audrey Coleman 

Photo courtesy of MGN

Waltham’s Walter E. Fernald State School, later the Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center, was an institution for those with developmental disabilities. It was an establishment for many medical experiments and eugenics practices in the early 20th century. Many people with disabilities suffered for years at the school.

Now, the property is facing more controversy, as plans to open an “amusement park” on the school’s grounds have been drawn. 

The project was approved in 2022 and plans include an “electric train, mini golf, open green space, tennis and pickleball courts, a massive athletic complex, eight parking lots, an amphitheater, and a universal playground for children with disabilities,” according to

The plan has faced backlash.

 “This is not what people asked for,” said former City Councilor Jonathan Paz. “I have not once heard someone say, ‘The best thing to do in a place where historical injustices happened is to put an amusement park.’”

Many also suggest that the residential building could have been repurposed to preserve or convert to housing, which is a more favored renovation.