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Lanesborough Select Board Looking Into Berkshire Mall 'Landslide'
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:26PM / Wednesday, November 15, 2023
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An image captured from Dalton Community Television of the hole on the outside lane of the ring road at the former mall.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — First responders are concerned about a hole in the outside lane of the ring road surrounding the shuttered Berkshire Mall and have asked for a solution.

The crater near the former Best Buy has expanded to about the size of a loader's bucket and is coned off but traffic can still pass by.

"We're not only looking out for the safety of the residents but actually the mall owner from a liability standpoint," Police Chief Robert Derksen said. "We're trying to protect them as well because if there is a tragedy they're going to be liable for something like that."

He and Emergency Medical Services Director Jennifer Weber approached the Select Board with the issue on Monday. The panel agreed to contact the mall owners and the Conservation Commission.

"The Fire Department and EMS department, we're not allowing our trucks to drive this way," Weber explained.

"We're going around the backside of the mall. It's a slight delay in time to get there but we're just really concerned about number one, the cars that are coming around but also that eventually it's all going to go into that big giant landslide there."

She added that the ring road was not properly maintained for snow and ice last winter and there was an increase in accidents.

The crater has opened up dramatically from where it started, Weber said and now stretches across one lane of traffic. There is also a concern about cars accidentally driving into the hole or crashing with the loader.

The mall is owned by JMJ Holdings, which plans to convert it into a senior living facility with condominiums and other commercial uses on the property. Target is the only store that remains open and drives traffic across the way.

Derksen explained that any private property that is open to the public such as a parking lot for a retail establishment becomes a quasi-public way where the law can be enforced.

If it isn't going to be maintained, the first responders said it may need to be barricaded off but that would also create access concerns if there were an emergency on the property.

The board agreed to contact the mall owners and the Conservation Commission, recognizing the potential environmental concerns of runoff.

In other news, there will be a property tax classification hearing on Nov. 27.  Selectman Timothy Sorrell asked if information could be presented on a split tax rate because he had heard inquiries from residents.

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