To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I fully support the five Pittsfield city councilors who voted to table the Six Municipalities Agreement at the council meeting on Oct. 22 because, unlike some of the councilors who voted against tabling the agreement and for its approval, they read the agreement and were addressing some of the obvious defects in a very poorly written document.
As I have discussed with the mayor, I am opposed to this agreement, because it is a bad deal for the city of Pittsfield, where most of the direct impacts of the proposed Rest of River cleanup will occur. While we are all still waiting to hear the details of the cleanup plan that EPA will present to our communities, it is very clear from even a cursory look at the alternatives that have been studied and reviewed over the last several years that approximately 95 percent of the river dredging and floodplain excavation (which will take 15 to 50 years) will happen in Ward 4 of the city of Pittsfield and the town of Lenox.
The structure of the Six Municipalities Agreement based upon each of the communities having one vote -- irrespective of population and impact of the cleanup -- is wrongheaded and unfair. In addition, the provision in the agreement that each of the municipalities is guaranteed a minimum of 5 percent of any settlement reached is also wrong.
In effect, the city of Pittsfield and the town of Lenox will see 20 percent of whatever damages are recovered in any settlement going to the other towns where the cleanup impacts will be minimal as compared to what will be suffered in Pittsfield and Lenox.
All of the citizens of Pittsfield should expect our mayor and City Council to be out front representing our interests in this process which will have what could be devastating impacts on our neighborhoods for years. For the mayor to let himself get talked into a structure where the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (which has no experience asserting and settling multimillion dollar claims) will be the "exclusive agent" to handle possible negotiations with GE is extremely disappointing and a breach of his responsibility to stand up for the citizens of Pittsfield as we face this enormous challenge. C. JEFFREY COOK