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A gate leading to the former GE site in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.NEPM's Nancy Cohen explores the economic and environmental legacy General Electric left behind in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where only a small staff for the company remains.

Western Mass. Communities Get Majority Of New State Funds To Prep Old Sites For Development

The Baker administration announced funding on Tuesday to prepare sites for industrial and commercial development. Nearly two-thirds of the $3,184,000 from MassDevelopment's Site Readiness Program is going to communities in western Massachusetts.

The funding goes to municipalities, economic development groups and private businesses.

In Belchertown, $804,000 will pay to demolish Carriage Grove, an old power plant. In Palmer, $280,000 will be used to design a new bridge over the Ware River. Southwick received $105,000 to analyze whether to extend a road between existing industrial sites, and expand the town's sewer service there.

Pittsfield got the biggest state award, $880,000, to prepare 16.5 acres of former General Electric property for development. The parcel is part of the William Stanley Business Park, with the funds helping pay to design and engineer the site. One of the first steps is to crush and crack old concrete.

"This parcel looks like the surface of the moon," Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer said. "But today, with this funding, this marks the groundwork that we need to transform this parcel, which has really been undevelopable and in a state of deterioration for over 20 years."

Tyer said for a long time residents expected a large industry would come and replace General Electric, but she said the future site will feature "smaller, more marketable parcels so that our developers will have more choices."

In addition, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority has been awarded a $264,000 Brownfield Remediation grant for an environmental assessment of the site.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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