"That pile of dirt?" says the neighbor, looking down the road toward the airport. "I hear there's money over there. I hear if you got money, all this stuff about flood plain means nothing. If you got enough money, you'll get your permits."
In March the flood water were almost to his door.
"I got me lake front property." he said, and chuckles. "King for a day."
So, we have the continuing story of the big dirt pile at Northampton Airport. This was left over after they built two new hangars at the airport. The base of the pile is about fifty by fifty, and it looks to me like it is about eighty feet high, and it looks like high quality loam. No trespassing signs warn off poachers. It is just off the airport runway, close to or actually inside the area affected by flooding in March. The adjoining area to the south was a lake, and sheet flows moving from the airport toward the south washed out the Fair Street extension. Angela Plassman took a picture of a DPW backhoe working.
David Reid of Northampton Media noted her absence at the public works meeting that night. This was the reason she couldn't get there, Dave. They were trapped by rising waters.
Today you can still see where a local farmer has done some makeshift repairs to the road's shoulder. Yesterday I was down at city hall digging into the files and I found this letter from the airport's engineering firm.
"You may note" says GZA, "A temporary stockpile of excess loan in the work area. This will be removed prior to completion of the buildings."
Well, the buildings are finished. A sentence in the DEP permit states that the compensatory storage (the detention pond in the photo) shall be created before construction of the proposed buildings begins."
The intent would seem to tell them to dig your detention ponds, cart the fill away, and then you construct the buildings. Files in the building inspector's office indicate that the airport got its final occupancy permit for the buildings on September 24th of last year. And the dirt is still here, and the conservation commission's staffer, Sarah LaValley, seems remarkably unconcerned about the matter. Maybe it is because Lisa Fusco's name is on the paperwork for the airport, and she sits on the conservation commission. So let me explicate: This pile, while it is there, displaces about the equivalent of a 5,000 square foot industrial or residential building. It maybe displaces the equivalent of a couple hundred illegal trailers. So I am filing an official complaint today for enforcement action with the DEP and the chairman of the Northampton Conservation Commission. Lets see what happens.