|Environmental Report on Former North Adams Dry Cleaners Months Away|
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
03:57AM / Thursday, June 28, 2018
|City and Housing Authority officials have been waiting on possible contamination at Sun Cleaners for nearly a year.|
The board also heard the preliminary results of HUD's scoring of the authority's properties and management.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Officials had anticipated getting an environmental report on the old Sun Cleaners wrapped up in a couple months.
More than a year later, Housing Opportunities Inc. is hoping it will be done by this October so that the less than quarter-acre parcel and its deteriorating building can finally be passed on to the city.
Housing Authority Executive Director Jennifer Hohn told the Board of Commissioners on Monday that she recently received an email that contained a firmer date for the completion of the drillings and report.
"It is looking like October for that test to be done," Hohn said. "They have to go back and do more digging.
"It is just neverending."
For the past few years, the Housing Authority's board members, who also comprise the board of Housing Opportunities Inc., have been trying to dissolve the housing program and transfer its assets to the city.
All properties were accepted by the city last April except for the Flood House that was transferred to the Louison House shelter and the former River Street dry cleaners that the city wanted to make sure was not contaminated.
North Adams officials had agreed to take over the possibly tainted property if it was either clean or there was enough money in the Housing Opportunities account to remediate it. Any balance left in that account, which is also paying for the 21E Environmental report, would also go to the city.
Although the commissioners do not expect substantial — if any — cleanup, they were told in May that more and deeper samples needed to be taken. They anticipated this would take another three months and were correct.
"It's just hurry up and wait," Commissioner Colin Todd said.
The housing program, created nearly 30 years, has been told by U.S. Housing and Urban Development that it can't co-exist with the Housing Authority. The program was largely considered a failure and officials have been trying for years to transfer its assets to the city.
The vacant Sun Cleaners, which was purchased in 2008 for $50,000 for reasons more recent board members don't understand, has been a stumbling block for HOI's final dissolution.
In other business, Hohn presented the commission with the final 2017 HUD Public Housing Assessment System score of 94.
"Once that is processed, as long as there are no findings, we don't lose any points," she said. "So our score didn't change."
Hohn said the Housing Authority's score of 94 was preliminary and the score is only finalized after an audit. The authority has been considered a "high performer" for the past three years. PHAS scoring looks at physical conditions, finances, management and capital fund programs.