Price Chopper cuts off cut-through route in former Lee grocery store's parking lot

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LEE — Price Chopper caught local motorists off guard recently when the supermarket chain suddenly blocked access to a popular bypass of Main Street.

The Schenectady, N.Y.-based grocer has placed six large concrete blocks at its West Park Street entrance/exit, the outlet for drivers cutting through the private property, via the post office on Consolati Way.

"The parking lot has long been used to avoid Main Street," said Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub. "With the store closed, we feared speeding would increase. This deters the most dangerous traffic."

The Main Street access remains open, in part because of parking needed for Zabians Clothing and Morgan House Inn & Restaurant, which abut the Price Chopper site, according to town officials. Several easements between Price Chopper and the post office guarantee access between the two sites.

The concrete barriers have generated a buzz in town, especially among those who regularly use the shortcut.

"I've heard a lot of people complaining about it already," said Ann Herbst of Tyringham. "In the grand scheme of things, it's not the worst thing that could happen but it is an inconvenience and will put more traffic on Main Street."

Price Chopper closed its Lee store July 29, on three weeks' notice, leaving the downtown without a grocery store.

The Select Board and many residents, at the time, were stunned by the announcement. Since Price Chopper shuttered the store, the company has gutted it, removing all shelving, retail refrigeration and most fixtures.

The regional grocer continues to seek a buyer for the site, a supermarket since 1960. Price Chopper took over operation from the independent Lee Super Market in 1972, taking ownership in 1986.

The store was the only grocery within walking distance of downtown, including the Hyde Place, Crossway Village and Brown Memorial Court housing projects, where many senior citizens live.

Lee's lone supermarket, Big Y, is located near Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike, about a mile from downtown.

Reach Dick Lindsay at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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