Hearing set on Lunt Silversmiths property in Greenfield

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

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

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

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

Staff Writer
Published: 1/19/2022 4:55:22 PM
Modified: 1/19/2022 4:54:18 PM

GREENFIELD — A remote public hearing has been scheduled in response to the request of 32 petitioners to declare the former Lunt Silversmiths property a Public Involvement Plan (PIP) site.

Petitioners were notified of the hearing, scheduled for 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15, by attorney Samuel Prickett of Raipher P.C.

The public hearing concerns the property at 298 Federal St., which has been a topic of discussion since late last year, when city councilors expressed concern over the site’s environmental safety. According to the notice sent to petitioners, the hearing will be an opportunity to discuss the current environmental remediation efforts and to solicit community input.

Motions to declare the property on Federal Street as surplus and authorize the mayor’s sale of the property were tabled during an October City Council meeting after Precinct 3 Councilor Virginia “Ginny” DeSorgher urged councilors to vote “no” until remediation issues are addressed. The matter was eventually sent to the Economic Development Committee for further review.

In December, a petition was presented to Mayor Roxann Wedegartner seeking to bring a process for designating the former Lunt Silversmiths property as a PIP site. Part of the process includes interviews with petitioners.

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

In a notice to city councilors and municipal employees, Wedegartner emphasized that while she understands and shares the concerns of residents regarding the historical and ongoing environmental issues of the property, she must balance those concerns with responsibilities of the city regarding the legal status of the contract.

“That lease is still in effect and in good standing, under its original authorization,” she wrote, adding that attorney Raipher Pellegrino of 401 Liberty St. LLC and Raipher P.C. has recently elected to purchase the building.

She noted an environmental cleanup has been ongoing since the early 2000s, and continues under the rules, regulations and oversight of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the licensed site professional, O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates.

“I can assure you that I, and the city, are not ignoring the cleanup, the PIP process, or the concerns for public health and safety as has been stated by city councilors,” Wedegartner wrote.

She attached to her memo a timeline of events, beginning with a letter submitted to then-Mayor Christine Forgey in 2005, regarding investigations at the Federal Street site. In subsequent years, the timeline documents site testing and remediation efforts leading up to the Planning Board’s site plan approval in 2017 for a mental health clinic and residential recovery home treatment center.

One of the primary concerns of residents and councilors alike, however, is the designation of the site as a commercial/industrial property, as opposed to a residential one. The designation determines the standard for which test results are based.

Wedegartner sited an email sent by the license site professional to the city that stated the definition of a residence is a structure to be occupied by one or more persons, without transient use.

“The goal of site cleanup is to make it safe,” Glen Ayers, who initiated the PIP petition, previously said.

Ayers, a former health agent with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, said he is concerned that the hearing has been scheduled for 4 p.m., at a time when most people haven’t arrived home from work.

“I do not have a good feeling about that meeting,” he said Wednesday. “I think it should be canceled and rescheduled for when it’s convenient for petitioners to attend. … People should be involved. That’s the involvement part.”

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


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