NORTH ADAMS — Price Chopper says the company is working to find a food retailer to fill the vacant building it left behind when it closed the State Road location last month.
Nearly a month after the closure, community activists are encouraged by a letter they received from the company board's Executive Chairman Neil Golub.
Responding to calls from Berkshire Interfaith Organizing (BIO) and the Brayton Hill Action Committee for an in-person meeting, Golub wrote, "We completely understand your concerns and are making sincere efforts to do the best that we can.
"Our real estate department at Price Chopper is working with the landlord to see if we can find a company to lease the vacant property," Golub wrote in a letter dated March 17.
The plaza is owned by Price Chopper under the name North Adams Realties Corp., according to city assessor records.
In a March 4 letter addressed to Golub, the groups acknowledged that Price Chopper wouldn't be returning to North Adams, but stressed it should keep the community's needs in mind as it decides what to do with the building.
"One of the key things was we were really pleased that the letter came directly from Mr. Golub himself," said Wendy Krom, lead organizer for Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, one of the groups spearheading the community's response to Price Chopper's closure. "We understand that Price Chopper has closed and there is not an expectation that they would reopen. What we are asking for is that as the owner of the property, they do have some control over what happens."
The local organizations have pointed out that many residents in nearby neighborhoods — including the Greylock Valley Apartments and Brayton Hill Apartments — struggle finding transportation to the city's other grocery stores, which are more than a 15 minute walk away.
Since the closure of Price Chopper — which has been in that location for more than 50 years and employed more than 50 people — the groups have worked with the Berkshire Regional Transportation Authority to improve public transportation to other stores, including deviating routes upon request to drop off passengers right at the storefront.
The groups are also continuing efforts to assess long-term solutions, such as a mobile food market or mobile food pantry that can bring food closer to the residents who need it the most.
"Our local community is coming together to try to make sure that the disruption is kept to a minimum, and we're able to actually have it not be too much of a struggle for the people who have been walking to get their groceries," Krom said.
And while recognition in Golub's letter is a step in the right direction, Krom said the groups will continue to keep the pressure on to "hold the corporation responsible" and still seek a face-to-face meeting.
"It has my personal attention," Golub wrote.
The organizations spent a weekend canvassing the affected neighborhoods and local congregations to gather letters of support for their efforts, which they plan to forward to Price Chopper.
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.