After 30 Years, Court Marks Boston Harbor Cleanup

“There were a lot of secondary challenges,” Shelley said. “At the time, I don’t think anyone had full knowledge of how badly the system had fallen. . . . We had no sense of how big of a mountain we were looking at in terms of the challenges, and no one understood it was going to be a $4 billion project at the end of the day.”

Shelley was at Laskey’s court presentation in March, celebrating with fellow lawyers, engineers, and contractors. The Conservation Law Foundation, as the lead plaintiff, could have legally responded to the presentation before Stearns’ July order officially declaring the construction phase complete. But it did not.

Instead, Shelley wrote a letter to the judge praising those involved, including the court.

“We think the rehabilitation of this system is now complete,” Shelley said in an interview this week, “and the focus now needs to be on the recognition of the importance of continuing investments in the system, so that history is never repeated.”

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