Tainted Great Barrington site could be set for redevelopment by fall
GREAT BARRINGTON -- A long-dormant industrial site on Bridge Street is poised to enter a new phase of redevelopment.
Demolition crews are wrapping up work at the former New England Log Homes facility, which is tainted with chemicals left behind when the company ceased operating more than 20 years ago.
Oficials envision a mixed-use commercial and residential development on the site, according to Timothy Geller, executive director of the Community Development Corp. of South Berkshire. Plans also call for a two-acre public park on the eight-acre site.
The parcel is one of the few remaining large commercial sites near the downtown area. Several local businesses have expressed interest in relocating to the site, including the nearby Berkshire Co-Op Market, but no contracts have yet been signed.
The site has been cleared of the buildings formerly owned and operated by New England Log Homes, Geller said in a statement. Maxymillian Technologies of Pittsfield is currently removing the last of the foundations.
Once the site is completely cleared, Geller said, bioremediation will commence. Biotech Restorations of North Carolina is set to introduce enzymes that will help the indigenous microbes on the site break down the contaminants in the soil.
The plan required permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers. The town's Conservation Commission has also reviewed and approved the plan.
Some portions of the site also may have to be capped, Geller said, estimating that the site could be ready for development by the fall.
The CDC of South Berkshire was the principal agent in developing a host of funding sources, including multiple Environmental Protection Agency grants totaling $350,000, another $200,000 EPA Cleanup grant, a $197,000 appropriation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a $275,000 grant from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and a $475,000 bridge loan from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp.
The $1.2 million demolition was completed in 2012. The site remediation work is estimated to cost about $2 million, according to Geller. The CDC secured a $2 million MassDevelopment grant for site remediation.
New England Log Homes cut and fabricated logs for the construction of log homes from 1970 through 1991. Since then, efforts to develop another business on the site have been unsuccessful because the dioxins and PCBs left behind by the operation rendered much of the site undesirable for development.
In 2001, the abandoned structures were partially destroyed by a massive fire. Development attempts were revived, as the town and local nonprofits began to look closer at the site. The CDC purchased the site in 2007, setting into motion a coordinated redevelopment plan.
"It's been a long haul," Geller said. "It's been a pretty complicated process. Our main goal was to still be standing at the end of this."
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