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Take two of Birch Properties’ meet and greet with Lenox Select Board Chair, candidate Ed Lane

“I work hard at being a steward of the town,” says Lane.

Lenox — In the second day of a trio of civic meet-and-greet events, owner Selina Lamb welcomed Lenox residents to the porch of Birch Properties with doughnuts and coffee, promoting the opportunity to address their concerns with the town’s Select Board candidates. On May 1, current Select Board Chair Ed Lane was in the hot seat during his campaign for one of two available seats on the dais. Incumbent Neal Maxymillian and newcomer Jared Weber are also seeking the win during the May 6 election.

Having been on the Select Board for 12 years, this year’s campaign isn’t Lane’s first rodeo, but he said he has learned something new this season. “I always relied on knowing everybody because I was born and brought up here,” Lane said. “When I retired from [serving as] postmaster, I probably knew everybody in town. I don’t know everybody in town anymore. There’s a lot of new faces in town, and you have to keep up with it.”

He labeled himself “the worst politician you could ever have,” noting his innate nature is not to self-promote but to just “go to work, do my job, and call it a day.”

“I work hard at being a steward of the town,” Lane said. “And I hope that resonates with people. I’m always open for suggestions; that’s why I’m here today.”

Residents won’t find any signs in town supporting Lane’s campaign. “I’m relying on word of mouth, people I know, my reputation of doing a good job for the town,” he said.

For Lane, his focus in office has been on the two large local projects, including the new public-safety building that broke ground April 30. “That was a huge project; that was six years in the making,” he said of the endeavor.

At the same time, the town is embarking on a wastewater-treatment project that, along with the public-safety building, tallies $70 million in appropriations.

Lane also serves on Lenox’s permit committee, advancing these and other projects.

He said he and the townspeople aren’t happy about the rolling out of the Housatonic River Rest of River remediation project that centers on the waterway’s east and west confluence to Connecticut following decades of General Electric Company (GE) dumping toxins from its Pittsfield plant. A 2020 settlement between GE, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and five Berkshire towns, including Lenox, agreed to a plan to clean up the Housatonic River that will send the most toxic materials out of the area while depositing the less harmful materials in a to-be-constructed Upland Disposal Facility, or landfill, in Lee.

“I don’t want a landfill, but I realized the reality of it is it’s going to happen,” Lane said. “We have to accept that. People have to accept that. That’s not going to change.”

He said he will try to push area citizens to get involved as much as possible. “We have to keep all our eyes on GE and [the] EPA, quite frankly, as the project goes on, “ Lane said. “We need input from everybody. If there’s a problem, let us know.”

The town hired engineering firm Weston and Sampson and, per Lane, will seek advice from other experts as well to guide the municipality. “We’re not going to just let this happen,” he said. “We’re going to follow up on everything, from the [point of the] health and safety of the citizens.”

Additionally, Lane voiced concern about the route of the trucks carrying dredged materials and the effect of those logistics on citizens along its path. He advocated that a big part of the settlement funds received from GE in conjunction with the settlement agreement be “focused on Lenox Dale residents, people who are affected by this.”

“I want to help them do whatever they want to do,” Lane said of Lenox Dale residents. “It could be economic development type of work. There’s plenty of money there to help the town end up a better town than now, come out of this in a better position. It’s going to take some time, though. Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time.”

As for election cycles, Lane admits to being nervous when he first ran for office but concedes that, now, he just “enjoys it.” “I like talking to people, I like solving problems,” he said. “This is what I do.”

Incumbent Lenox Select Board member Neal Maxymillian will be the focus of Birch Properties’ meet and great on May 2, from 11 a.m. to noon.

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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.