SAVOY -- A popular town campground was ordered closed in Pittsfield housing court Wednesday for violations of state sanitary and fire codes and lack of a manager.
Roughly two dozen summer residents of Shady Pines Campground attended court to hear Wednesday's ruling and mourned the result, some reportedly breaking into tears.
They and other campers had in large part run the grounds since ownership of the business changed in May, at which time William H. Daniels assumed ownership from longtime owner and manager Steven Daniels.
With Wednesday's ruling, everyone had to leave by 7 p.m. that evening. The campers are mainly Northern Berkshire homeowners who summer there. They total as many as 60 people, but an exact figure wasn't available Wednesday. The grounds are located at 547 Loop Road.
In an interview Wednesday, Town Counsel Lance Chavin said the town regretted the ruling, but lack of "someone in charge" at the grounds had resulted in violations that threatened campers' health and safety.
"When no one's job is to watch what goes on, and one minor [code] violation after another start to happen, it becomes a question of who's responsible, and who can fix it," Chavin said. " ... This is a facility, not two or three tents pitched in the middle of nowhere."
Selectmen's Chair John Tynan agreed. "The camp needs to have a designated manager or operator," he said Wednesday.
A family-owned business for more than 40 years, Shady Pines houses more than 100 cabins and many mobile homes, tents, communal buildings, parks and fields, a bar and swimming pool.
Chavin and Tynan linked the issues at the grounds to the transition in ownership, and the record of code problems begins there.
Site visits by members of the town Board of Health, and later by state Department of Public Health personnel, during inspections on May 24 and June 18 found significant issues.
Chavin said state authorities issued a boil water order on the campground in May after E. coli was found to have contaminated the water supply. Also, combustibles were reportedly found near the area of oil heaters. Additionally, pool, food and bar services all required licensed operators, and had none.
"Numerous other health, safety and fire code violations" existed, Chavin said.
William H. Daniels hired no employees, allowed campers to operate the campground and for the most part remained an "absentee owner," according to Chavin.
Daniels was not in court Wednesday due to being hospitalized by illness. Efforts to reach Gregory Howard, lawyer for Shady Pines, were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Tynan said outside contractors have already worked on some of the campground's issues -- most notably the water supply. State Department of Environmental Protection personnel from the Springfield office have assisted with this work.
The path forward, Tynan said, involves making the needed fixes and getting the campground open again quickly as possible, if only with a "limited scope."
"Some of the violations they should be able to clear up pretty quickly," Tynan said.
One option, Tynan suggested, would be to contract out management of the grounds, and continue a process of coordination between that manager, various state agencies and the town. By degrees, campers could return for overnights, he said.
Chavin echoed similar goals.
"We want the campers to return as much as they do, we just want them to be safe," he said.
To reach Phil Demers,