Seeking the facts about 100 Bridge Street

In her letter to the editor, Laurily Epstein of Great Barrington writes: “Wouldn’t it be wise to hit the brakes and get a few things really clear?” 

To the Editor: 

When it comes to getting his permit for affordable housing at 100 Bridge St, Tim Geller keeps changing his story, so I went to CDC offices for some clarification. After all, he said one thing to the Select Board, something else to Zoning Board of Appeals. Yesterday on WAMC radio, he said something else again.

So which is it?

For instance: How much of this 8-acre project is actually getting built? On the radio Geller said “The master plans includes 45 units of affordable rental apartments, 36 market-rate condominiums which will be medium and higher-end condominiums, about 30,000 square feet of commercial space and two acres of public park.” But on Wednesday, in a personal meeting with me and Carol Diehl, Geller told us that the demand for commercial space is so soft, it’s unlikely to get built. So since the plans for the 6 acres are theoretical at this point, why isn’t the housing portion more spacious and moved away from the water treatment plant?

So which is it?

As we all know the entire 8 acres is a brownfield, with dioxins and contaminated groundwater. At the ZBA meeting on July 26, Geller told the Board he needs the option to do “partial remediation,” based on finances. But on the radio, Geller said “Absolutely 100 percent of the site will be cleaned up,”

So which is it?

I also wonder if the DEP actually approves of partial remediation? On WAMC, Geller said: “We have a remediation plan that the strategy of which is approved by Mass. DEP.” Um, well, not so fast, at least according to the Berkshire Edge on August 3: “Mass. DEP spokesperson Catherine Skiba told The Edge Monday that while the agency has had past conversations about remediating the entire site using the containment method known as “capping,” there have not been discussions about a ‘partial cap,’ or phased capping.”

So which is it? Approved or not approved? Partial or complete remediation? A full development or just affordable housing?

The Zoning Board of Appeals is being asked to approve this permit on Monday night. Wouldn’t it be wise to hit the brakes and get a few things really clear? For instance — Why the shifting stories? So, just what are the facts?

Laurily Epstein

Great Barrington