Wide reach of brownfields projects in Berkshire County

PITTSFIELD — The following are among recent Berkshire County projects funded by federal Environmental Protection Agency brownfields grants.

The program's future is uncertain amid changes at the EPA.

ADAMS: A brownfields assessment is underway.

DALTON: A cleanup grant was used by the Dalton Redevelopment Authority to address issues at 339 North St.

GREAT BARRINGTON: Along with attention paid to the former Reid Cleaners (see accompanying story), brownfields funding underwrote the demolition of the contaminated New England Log Homes site.

According to Jennifer Tabakin, town manager, the EPA program has also funded site assessments at the former Searles/Bryant School, the St. James Church and the Hazen Paper Co.

"Brownfields funding has been critical in advancing prime development sites," Tabakin said. "It has funded remediation that would never have occurred without their support."

Melissa Provencher, the brownfields specialist with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said the program has helped the Berkshire Co-op Market find a site at 79 Bridge St.

"I think it's important for this really successful co-op to expand and maintain its downtown presence," she said. "That's a tricky one because we are running out of funding right now."

LEE: A cleanup grant was used by the town of Lee to remedy problems at 25 School St.

Also in Lee, the town was picked in 2013 as one of 20 communities in the country for an area-wide planning grant from the EPA. The commission created a "stakeholders" group that included Lee, Lenox and local organizations to confront environmental problems stemming from the former Schweitzer-Mauduit paper mill. The work resulted in a plan to deal with four distinct brownfields sites, according to Provencher.

NORTH ADAMS: In addition to work inside the private GreylockWORKS project, brownfields money is being used to deal with contaminated sludge in the former "tailrace" at the Greylock Mill. The nonprofit Greylock Flume Inc. plans to create a riverfront park for public use.

At the GreylockWORKS project, funding will be used to encapsulate old floorboards containing petroleum, provide air filtration and deal with the presence of PCBs and asbestos in window casings.

PITTSFIELD: An EPA brownfields grant through the planning commission's revolving loan fund helped the city deal with heavy metals contamination at the site of a new park on Dewey Avenue.

The grant, worth $317,000, paid to assess the site and then contain the hazard, according to Nate Joyner, a staff member in the city's office of Community Development.

The contamination was believed to be the result of years of lead paint use on houses in the neighborhood. The site was graded, contaminated soil removed and fresh soil brought in.

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.


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