My father-in-law has followed our Berkey & Gay hazardous waste story with some interest but not so closely to be familiar with the names of all the players and the role of each in the conspiracy. This became apparent from the questions and remarks he had this weekend after reading some of the articles posted on the website. So it occurred to me that it might be helpful to all of our readers if I recapped the Berkey & Gay hazardous waste conspiracy.
We have reported to state and federal law enforcement and have alleged in court the following:
1. The developers of the old Berkey & Gay furniture factory site in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan – presently known as The Boardwalk – excavated approximately 26,000 tons of contaminated soil from that site during the year 2000 and then disposed of it in the abandoned concrete water tanks of the old Monroe Avenue water filtration plant and other locations in the Grand Rapids area.
2. The developers carried out this massive removal of contamination without any environmental controls to prevent workers, neighbors, and passersby from coming into direct contact with it or to prevent its release into the surrounding environment, including the Grand Rapids city storm sewer system and the nearby Grand River. Furthermore, none of the places the developers used to permanently dump the Berkey & Gay’s contaminated soil was licensed for hazardous waste disposal.
3. The developers planned this unlawful excavation and disposal of the Berkey & Gay’s hazardous waste by producing an environmental site assessment for the old factory’s grounds that misrepresented the extent and nature of the contamination. When we brought these unlawful activities came to the attention of state and federal authorities, the developers obstructed their investigations with false affidavits, faked soil tests, and other frauds.
However, hundreds of hours of surveillance videotape, photographs, soil testing conducted by the State of Michigan, and other compelling evidence prove beyond a doubt that the Berkey & Gay developers did illegally dumped tens of thousands of tons of contaminated soil in various locations in the Grand Rapids vicinity. Consequently, the Michigan Attorney General’s office has agreed to review this evidence, and the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that our allegations of hazardous waste violations by the developers and their cohorts are valid.
The Bad Guys
So, that in a nutshell is the Berkey & Gay hazardous waste conspiracy, which brings us to the next question: Who are the Berkey & Gay developers?
Formally, the developers of the Berkey & Gay site are a pair of Michigan limited liability companies called 940 Monroe L.L.C. and 900 Monroe L.L.C. Limited liability companies are either managed by the members (i.e., the owners) or by a designated manager who may or may not be a member. Both LLC’s are operated by a designated manager, Thomas E. Beckering, who is a member of both LLC’s and the owner and chairman of the construction company Pioneer Incorporated. It appears that Beckering has operated the LLC’s jointly from the offices of Pioneer.
However, there’s more to this story. Upon completion of the renovation of the Berkey & Gay site into The Boardwalk in March 2001, Beckering submitted to the State of Michigan an amendment to 940 Monroe L.L.C.’s articles of organization in which he ceded financial management of the company to his bankers, Fifth Third Bancorp and National City Community Development Corporation. Moreover, both of these banks are Beckering’s co-members in 940 Monroe L.L.C. As such Beckering testified under oath in April 2001 that Fifth Third directed and managed the removal and off-site disposal of the Berkey & Gay’s contaminated soil.
Another member of 940 Monroe L.L.C. that should interest the public is James Dykema. Dykema is one of the principals of Dykema Excavators Inc. In May 1999, after the Berkey & Gay’s project manager had complained to Grand Rapids city officials that he had no inexpensive means of disposing of the Berkey & Gay’s contamination, then-Mayor John Logie lobbied the Grand Rapids City Commission to approve the sale of the defunct Monroe Avenue water filtration plant to a low bidder, Dykema Excavators Inc.
Make what you will of the fact that Fifth Third was a major client of Mayor Logie’s firm and that Logie seldom recused himself as mayor from decisions involving such conflicts of interest. Note that the high bid for the filtration plant was $600,000 and that Dykema Excavators offered only $400,000 WITHOUT anything but nominal payments for three years. Note also that the filtration plant was located only about a half mile north on Monroe Avenue from the Berkey & Gay site and that the plant’s grounds consisted of large concrete water tanks that were empty and ready to accept up to 100,000 cubic yards of fill. The filtration plant was the ideal disposable site for the Berkey & Gay’s contamination and Logie sold it one of the developers who used it for just that purpose.
For More Information
This is only part of the intrigue and rotten backroom deals that screwed the residents and taxpayers of the City of Grand Rapids, but this will give you some idea of the strings that the Berkey & Gay developers were able to pull to first plan this scheme and then to cover up their violations when the authorities arrived on the scene. See the other articles in the “Hazardous Waste Project” folder for more details. Also see the articles in the “FOIA Project” folder to learn how the City Attorney’s office destroyed official records of Logie’s involvement with Fifth Third and the Berkey & Gay developers to prevent them from becoming evidence in federal court.