Businessmen to open auto repair shop at former gas station on Elm Street

Thursday August 9, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Two Pittsfield men are converting a former gas station on Elm Street into an auto repair shop.

T&M LLC, consisting of city residents Mauer Desai and Tod Wallace Jr., purchased the half-acre property on 83-89 Elm St. for $125,000 from ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds.

Desai said the partners believe the location to be the perfect site for the business they want to operate, but aren't sure when it will open.

"Right now, we're trying to clean up the site," Desai said.

According to a report filed with the city's Board of Health and the state Department of Environmental Protection, workers are repairing the existing water line to restore water service to the parcel. The water line east of the former gas station was damaged during previous site excavation activities, which started after petroleum in the soil was first discovered on the parcel in March 1988.

ExxonMobil has contracted with Kleinfelder, a licensed engineering firm based in Framingham, to perform the work, which also includes the removal of the contaminated soil or any groundwater that may be encountered in the area of the water line restoration.

"There are some low level contaminants on the site," said DEP spokeswoman Catherine Skiba. "But they don't pose a serious health threat."

The proposed trench to repair the water line is approximately five to eight feet deep and three feet wide.

Testing for PCB contamination took place after an investigation begun in October 2002 found that concentrations of the chemical contained in shallow fill soils on the site up to a depth of six feet were above the reportable conditions, according to the report. The site is located near the east branch of the Housatonic River, and in 2004, the DEP determined that the PCB impacts were the responsibility of the General Electric Co. due to the historic contamination of that area by GE facilities.

GE removed surface soils from 12 sample locations at two lots that make up the entire site. The levels of PCBs on the site now are lower than the performance standard that is allowed for residential properties, which was the standard that the testing was conducted under, according to the DEP's report.

The gas station was originally built in 1970 and operated as a full-service auto repair and retail gasoline operation until it closed in October 2000. Six underground storage tanks were removed from the property when the gas station went out of business.

Other environmental remediation efforts at the property include the removal of 1,250 cubic yards of petroleum affected soil in 1988, and the installation of a new ground water extraction system by ExxonMobil in 2003 to filter ground water under the site to remove gasoline contamination.

In 2007, a report of water bubbling out of the asphalt in the vicinity of the former gas station resulted in the discovery of a 12-inch lateral crack in the groundwater recovery piping, which has been repaired. Four groundwater monitoring wells were installed in January and February 2010, while Kleinfelder installed 15 similar devices last November. Kleinfelder began conducting monthly aquifer remediation efforts at the site in March.

The value of the lot is currently assessed by the city of Pittsfield at $139,180, a decrease of $32,000 from the previous fiscal year. The drop is due solely to a decrease in the value of the vacant building, according to city records.


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