The Recorder – City Council continues talks on remediation of former Lunt Silversmiths property

GREENFIELD — The ongoing conversation about environmental remediation efforts at the former Lunt Silversmiths property on Federal Street continued Tuesday night at the Economic Development Committee meeting.

The property, which has been leased to 401 Liberty LLC since 2015, has an agreement that gives the tenant – 401 LLC – the option to purchase. The Springfield-based LLC subleases the property to Behavioral Health Network (BHN) and Clinical & Support Options (CSO).

However, City Council voted in November to have the Economic Development Committee, one of its subcommittees, further consider the application for permission in light of concerns raised by Councilor 3 Virginia precinct.” Ginny” DeSorgher for the environmental safety of the property at 298 Federal St.

“As the evidence shows, further corrective action should be taken and a strict and timely plan for perpetual monitoring of air quality, wells, sumps and soil samples should be in place for the installation” , DeSorgher told advisers on Oct. 20. “Finally, as this is in fact a residential treatment facility, it is imperative that the AUL – permissions use limitations – designate this facility as residential and that it be completely restored to a residential standard. ”

Following the vote, up to 32 residents – including five councilors – signed a petition to begin the process of designating the former Lunt Silversmiths property as a Public Participation Plan (PIP) site.

The petition, which was presented to Mayor Roxann Wedegartner on December 1, was started by resident Glen Ayers, a former Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) health worker.

Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for sub-committee advisers to meet with the Department of Health, a licensed Independent Site Professional, the Department of Public Works and Ayers. An invitation to the site’s current licensed professional, O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates Inc. (OTO) was also extended, but no representative showed up. Wedegartner was able to attend the first part of the meeting.

DeSorgher, who chaired the meeting Tuesday night, asked Chief Health Officer Jennifer Hoffman how involved the health board was. Hoffman said she should check the minutes of Board of Health meetings, but when it comes to the Department of Health, he’s been mostly involved in information-gathering.

“Based on the records we have on file, several air samples were taken because the MassDEP (Department of Environmental Protection) wanted it,” Hoffman explained, in response to DeSorgher’s question about whether it is considered best practice to verify a safe area before allowing occupancy – in this case, for a processing facility. “The last measurement we recorded was March 2, 2017, in the worst conditions, and the numbers were not significantly high at that time.”

As for properties near the facility, the Department of Health took samples on Kenwood Street, at the request of DEP, but did not find elevated levels of trichlorethylene (TCE). High levels of benzene were present, but Hoffman noted that Goly’s Garage received multiple citations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DEP for noncompliance ranging from 1993 to 2010.

“From a Department of Health perspective, it would be difficult to tell where this benzene came from because they are directly across from each other,” Hoffman said.

At-Large Councilor Philip Elmer noted that the data sample records reflect the commercial standard of acceptable levels, rather than residential.

“Whether this is considered commercial or residential is a relevant and important legal distinction,” Elmer said. “I believe the city’s position is that because this is a processing facility, it falls into the commercial category. … These are acceptable levels of commercial exploitation.

Elmer asked if the city had prepared the Activities and Limitations of Use (AUL) report, which would limit the use of the property to commercial purposes. Wedegartner responded that the AUL is complete, with a 30-day period to file it with the EPA.

“Activities and limitations of use can be, and will be, filed in the very near future,” she said.

Lyons Witten, a licensed site professional and hydrologist, said there are several classes of contaminants at the site, with the main concern being trichlorethylene.

“It’s a concern for groundwater and air because it’s a volatile compound,” Witten said. “That means it can evaporate. Even in groundwater, it volatilizes into the ground and rises through the ground and can enter buildings.

Witten said the context is also relevant, noting that the building is used as a processing facility.

“How can we expect these patients to recover? ” he said. “They are not the vibrant, healthy 20-year-old marathon runners. We are talking about people who have substance use issues (disorders) trying to recover and get better, and you house them in a compromised air facility.

He said while “a lot” of testing has been done, with construction underway, he argues there hasn’t been enough indoor testing.

“It’s an issue that I personally don’t feel comfortable with,” Witten said.

Ayers said he was grateful that more attention was being paid to the property, although he noted that the public participation plan process does not appear to be underway, given that to his knowledge no of the petitioners was questioned.

“There’s a lot that hasn’t been done on this property yet,” Ayers said. “It’s clear…and the public needs to be involved every step of the way.”

City Council President Sheila Gilmour said the issue will remain on the agenda for future meetings. Elmer added that he was “can’t wait to hear from the other side.”

“This is the public forum for this question,” she said. “It’s definitely not something we’re going to resolve tonight.”

Journalist Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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