Group lands grant for oversight of Lunt Silversmiths cleanup in Greenfield 

  • Buildings that were once part of the Lunt Silversmiths manufacturing plant off Federal Street in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/28/2022 5:03:37 PM
Modified: 12/28/2022 5:00:41 PM

GREENFIELD — The neighborhood group that formed earlier this year in hopes of hiring an independent licensed site professional to oversee the environmental cleanup at the former Lunt Silversmiths property on Federal Street has received a $20,000 state grant to do so.

Retired health agent Glen Ayers, who initiated the petition that launched the process to designate the former Lunt Silversmiths property as a Public Involvement Plan (PIP) site, and subsequently an audit of the site cleanup process, previously said the incorporation of the group into a nonprofit would make it possible to apply for grants. In particular, the group of more than 100 members — called the Lunt Neighborhood Action Group — wanted to apply for a $20,000 Department of Environmental Protection Technical Assistance Grant.

“I’m really pleased that DEP selected us,” Ayers said. “I believe it’s a competitive grant, so we must have made a very strong case. It certainly helps that DEP has done an audit for the (former Lunt Silversmiths property).”

The property on Federal Street — which the Springfield-based 401 Liberty St. LLC subleases to the Behavioral Health Network and Clinical & Support Options — has been the subject of controversy among residents and city officials who have expressed concern about the status of the environmental cleanup. The issue was raised late last year by Precinct 3 Councilor Virginia “Ginny” DeSorgher when the property was brought before City Council to declare it as surplus and authorize the mayor’s sale. In particular, there is concern about contamination levels of trichloroethylene (TCE).

An audit conducted by the DEP last spring showed more work was needed with respect to the environmental cleanup. The audit found that the Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment — completed in April 2020 — was incomplete, and did not adequately assess contaminant sources and the extent of the contamination.

Over the past year, members of the PIP group have asked Mayor Roxann Wedegartner to consider hiring a new licensed site professional (LSP) to reassess the cleanup of the site, though Wedegartner has repeatedly expressed her confidence in the work of the current LSP, Bruce Nickelsen of O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates.

“I said from the get-go the PIP group can do whatever the PIP can do, within the boundaries of their role,” Wedegartner said. “If they want to get a new set of eyes on the project … that is fine.”

When reached by phone on Tuesday, Wedegartner said how an additional LSP might impact the project going forward was unclear to her, but she imagines it would simply mean an additional set of eyes on the same work.

“The process is going forward,” she added, “and everyone is doing their job.”

Ayers said he hopes to start the process with a new LSP by spring. That process will include working with community organizers; preparing a report on the status of the cleanup effort and next steps; presenting that report; and continuing to monitor the development of remedial action alternatives as needed.

“I believe it’ll give us the opportunity to be much more involved in the design of the cleanup plan,” Ayers said. “That’s really our goal — to be involved in the plan for the cleanup.”

Ayers said he also hopes to “bridge the gap” between the citizens’ group and the city’s Board of Health.

Speaking on behalf of the Lunt Neighborhood Action Group, DeSorgher said she was thrilled to have the DEP recognize the work the “Greenfield community has done to protect residents of the Lunt neighborhood and the clients of the (Northern) Hope Center.” The Northern Hope Center and Franklin Recovery Center on the former Lunt Silversmiths property are operated by the Behavioral Health Network.

“There is a great deal that we don’t know about the contamination in and around the Lunt buildings,” DeSorgher said. “This grant will give us the tools to find out what the issues are with this site.”

Precinct 4 City Councilor John Bottomley said he is “really excited” about the DEP grant and next steps.

“There have been so many questions raised,” he said, “and we really just need to get some answers.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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