Berkshire Community College Soccer Field

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On November 22, 1989 the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife notified the Pittsfield Conservation Commission of the certification of a vernal pool on the campus of Berkshire Community College. On June 2, 1999 the Berkshire Kick-Off Classic Soccer Tournament announced plans to improve the soccer fields on the college’s campus near the vernal pool. The vernal pool had for years been used by the faculty of the school’s environmental science department as a teaching site, and now the faculty saw the proposed construction as an opportunity to show students how construction and development can take place in a manner that protects nearby natural resources.  Although protection of the vernal pool and improvement of the soccer fields were not in conflict, a controversy was about to develop. The purpose of this web page is to explore and document the nature of and the events related to this controversy.

A photo of the construction area showing extensive work in the floodplain.
Click on photo to enlarge.
This is a view of the soccer field
construction site looking southeast from the Paterson Field house
on the Berkshire Community College Campus. Photo was taken in late-summer 2000. The image is repeated below with our annotations.
Same photo as above, but marked up to show violations.
Click on photo to enlarge.
In implementing the project on their campus, Berkshire Community College appears to have: violated the state's Wetland Protection Act, damaged a certified vernal pool, altered endangered species habitat, placed 110 truckloads of fill in a floodplain, circumvented laws designed to ensure public accountability, forged and altered public documents, and presented those forged and altered documents as evidence in a permitting process.

The local regulatory agency responsible for overseeing this process was the Pittsfield Conservation Commission,charged by state statute with enforcing the Wetlands Protection Act.
It appears that the Commission in a number of instances overlooked wetlands violations and failed to enforce the relevant regulations and, by these failures and through a number of procedural irregularities, allowed the destruction of a certified vernal pool and the loss of endangered species habitat.

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