Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Polluted Library vote

Automotive trash pile behind building

In spite of the rosy Gazette headline (1/7/12) "Consultant finds no contamination at proposed Shutesbury library site" published just days before a critical second Override vote (1/10/12), even the most cursory perusal of the property would indicate otherwise.

Leading library proponent Michael DeChiara added even more emphasis on the "Yes For New Library" Facebook page by publishing the word "NO" contamination in all caps. 

In fact, the consultant hastily hired by the town after a whistleblower voiced concern over the contamination discovered, "All Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbons 'were below the reporting level of the laboratory methodology with the exception of 19.1 PPM C19-C36 Aliphatic Hydrocarbons and 33.5 PPM CII-C22Aromatic Hydrocarbons detected in Sample FD-S-2."

The report continues: "The sample from beneath the drum was analyzed for Polychlorinated Biphenyls based on detection of PCBs in the petroleum remaining in the drum by Oil Recovery, Inc. A total of 39.9 parts per billion PCBs was detected in soil."

One of three drums left on site

Debris immediately behind building

Note to Gazette headline editor:  PCBs constitute "contamination."

When the town purchased the 22 acre site for $212,500 eight years ago from Amherst developer Barry Roberts, the property was only assessed at $137,500.  Even though it resembled a junk yard modeled after "Sanford and Son", no pre-sale environmental study was performed.  If any individual taxpayer tried that with a mortgage, the bank would demand an environmental site assessment as per normal business practice known as "due diligence."

Additionally, a fire station two doors down and a DPW across the street are what the consultant refers to as "Recognized Environmental Conditions."   Especially since the fire station is a known hazard contaminated by a leaky underground gas tank that has cost the town over $200,000 to date in clean up costs, with no end in sight.

The homeowner sandwiched between the fire station and the proposed library site has a contaminated well and receives potable water by special arrangement with the town.

Virtually all houses in Shutesbury have septic systems and well water. The elementary school is the only facility with town water/sewer, although much is made of the current library not having "running water."

You expect spin from both sides on any question as important as an Override vote, but when town officials downplay public health issues you have to wonder what else they would do in order to get their way?

Inside the former three bay auto repair facility, the concrete floor is cracked
Automotive fluid runoff  channeled to open floor drain


Anonymous said...

My question is why didn't Barry Roberts clean up this mess?

bach said...

good question

Anonymous said...

CPAs seem to typically overpay. Look to the Hawthorne property. If I remember correctly it was assessed in the mid $300k, yet the CPA (ie Amherst) paid $500K. WTF

Anonymous said...

This is a problem with the assessments. Why would the Hawthorne property be assessed in the mid 300 k's in downtown Amherst with all that land???

Same thing with the Dakin property on 116 that Amherst College was the highest bidder on a few years ago. It was assessed in the 600k range, and yet it sold for 4.something million.

Think about all the lost revenue for all those years because of these unrealistic assessments.

If a property in the center of Amherst has a large parcel of subdividable land attached to it, and developers are licking their chops to buy it for a lot of money, it's really valuable! Why on earth is it not assessed that way?

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the town ask him to clean it up???
I wouldn't if they didn't ask me to.

Anonymous said...

whoever did the dumping should be held responsible

caveat emptor does not apply here

Anonymous said...

Just read about Shutesbury. Great report. Why not send to Gazette?n

Michael Hootstein said...

I thank and applaud Republic of Amherst author Larry Kelly for his high journalistic standards in his reporting of "Polluted Library vote" and "Shutesbury Shootout continues". I urge each and every one of my Shutesbury friends to read Larry's blog and, if you are so moved, to comment anonomously without fear of retribution.