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Williamstown Coping with More Erosion Along Hoosic River
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:48AM / Friday, July 05, 2024
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The Conservation Commission is concerned about riverbank erosion along the Hoosic and possible spillage from the old landfill.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town is looking at several potential projects to stabilize the banks of the Hoosic River in the foreseeable future.
One much discussed effort near the intersection of North Street and Syndicate Road already is making its way through the permitting process. Two more were discussed last week at a meeting of the Conservation Commission.
Chair Lauren Stevens reported to his colleagues that he met with state Department of Environmental Protection officials at a bend in the river near Williams College's athletic fields to assess the impact of a breach to the riverbank.
"In one case, a very large tree went over and took a ball of dirt with it," Stevens explained. "Subsequently it has washed downstream, although there are some smaller trees that are knocked over and are still there.
"And then there's another place close by where it looks like a straight shot down to the river. That happens to be just at the eastern end of the work that was done to close the old Williamstown landfill. What's revealed at both sites is a good deal of what's supposed to be landfill trash is washing into the river."
The town's conservation agent, who was unable to attend the meeting with the DEP, elaborated on the rest of the commissioners.
"If everybody's been on the [Mohican Trail] bike path, you know where there's all that fencing in here and it kind of goes up and over a hill," Andrew Groff said, showing an overhead photo of the area in question. "That is not a natural hill. That is landfill, so it's a big pile of garbage, and some of the garbage is getting into the river now because of movement of bank.
"That's the short-term issue. But, long term, we've absolutely got to do something on this corner to prevent the river from migrating, as it wants to do, further south. Otherwise, we're going to damage our brand new and much loved bike path."
Groff said he consulted with Department of Public Works Director Craig Clough, who did meet with the DEP officials. Clough and Groff agreed that the town will need to address the immediate problem with a short-term solution and also take a more comprehensive look at the river as it wends through the north end of Williamstown.
"Long term, there's probably going to be a look at this whole corridor from further upstream by Cole Field all the way up past the sewer plant [off Simonds Road]," Groff said.
"We'll be seeing an application from Brad Furlon [chief operator of the Hoosic Water Quality District] at some point, hopefully before the end of the year. Because there is erosion … where pilings [south of the treatment plant along the river] were done about 20 years ago. Which, considering how deep they go, is pretty remarkable and a testament to how powerful the Hoosic is as a river system."
Groff said authorities would need to consult an hydrologist to look at the current and potential "choke points" along the river.
In other business on Thursday, the Con Comm reorganized for the 2024-25 year. Philip McKnight was elected to chair the panel, and Stevens was voted in as vice chair.
The commission also gave a certificate of compliance for work at 460 Hopper Road for work that was permitted in 1991 and granted an order of conditions for a gravel driveway near Broad Brook at 0 Sand Springs Road.
And Stevens informed his colleagues that he and Commissioner Tim Carr were to meet with Select Board Chair Andrew Hogeland this week to discuss the formation of a parks commission; currently, the Select Board functions in place of a standing parks commission, similar to how it acts as the town's road commission and alcohol licensing board.
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