NORTH ADAMS, MASS. >> Company executives at Price Chopper on Thursday said they are open to a dialog about ways to provide continued access to affordable quality food for the lower-income neighbors of the Price Chopper on State Road.
That message came in response to a call from a representative of the Berkshire Interfaith Organization, who sought a meeting with either the CEO or the chairman of the board of the Schenectady-based Golub Corp., owner of the Price Chopper supermarket chain.
The store is slated to close on Saturday. Some residents of both Brayton Hill and Greylock Valley do not have reliable transportation and have been walking to Price Chopper — about a 10 minute walk — for their essentials.
After the closing, the closest groceries are about 1.5 miles away at Stop & Shop in the west end of town or Big Y in the downtown. Either store is a 35 to 45 minute walk one way, and very difficult for some even on a nice day — nearly impossible in the winter cold or stormy weather, according to Brayton Hill resident Chris Read, a member of the Brayton Hill Action Committee.
"The majority of them who don't have a vehicle are very disappointed [in the closing plans]," Read said. "I'm one of them and it's a real blow."
Both apartment complexes are home to lower-income residents who face many other challenges.
"A lot of people are not happy about this," Read said. "We need them to stay, or we need something to replace them, someone that can provide fresh fruits, vegetables and actual meat, along with the other necessities."
The Rev. Mark Longhurst, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Williamstown and a member of the BIO executive board reached out to Golub Corp. to seek a discussion with either CEO Scott Grimmett or Neil Golub, executive chairman of the board of directors.
"The goal is for our coalition to have a voice in that process in deciding what comes next for food access at that site and its impact on the low income community in North Adams," Longhurst said.
He acknowledged that it might be an uphill effort.
"But we think that when you get the faith community together, your collective power is greater than what one group or individual could do on their own," he added.
Mona Golub, a spokeswoman for the company, said both executives have been traveling on business all week, but that they would be apprised of the request and respond appropriately.
"We were just contacted by them, so it's a very preliminary stage in the process," she said.
She also noted that the company has been communicating with North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, the North Adams Historical Commission regarding the Fort Massachusetts memorial, and has made a donation to the Interfaith Council food pantry since announcing the closing plans.
Golub said the company has also engaged in dialogue in similar situations "at least four times in the last 30 years that I know of."
"We applaud the outplacement and other services Price Chopper is providing for its employees," Longhurst said. "However, we are concerned about continuing access to affordable and healthy food at this site after Price Chopper leaves."