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Editorial: Finally, Greenfield gets the parking garage it’s been pushing for


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news around Franklin County and the North Quabbin this week:

We are happy to note that Greenfield is about to see construction of two new, long-awaited municipal facilities this summer. A five-level, 352-space parking garage on Olive Street, which town leaders and merchants have sought for decades, will rise from a town-owned parking lot and take about a year to build.

The $10 million garage is intended to help address a lack of parking caused by the opening of the new nearby courthouse this year, as well as provide parking for downtown businesses and cultural events. It will also offer long-term parking for the Amtrak service across the street at the Olver Transit Center.

Jones-Whitsett Architects of Greenfield is partnering with a Boston firm on the design, which we were happy to see because principal Margo Jones over the years has shown a great sensitivity to local projects to ensure they fit into their neighborhoods and historical contexts.

Fifteen existing bas-relief panels from the former Sweeney Ford building on Main Street that depict a car, train, airplane, covered wagon and hot air balloon, have been incorporated into the design, with the largest panel going on the outside of the building next to the Olive Street entrance.

At the same time, the town’s new senior/community center will rise on the site of the nearly century-old, brick Davis Street School, which was razed last week. The new center will replace the current senior center housed in the Weldon House senior apartment building on High Street, providing more space for the senior programs and doubling as a meeting and events space for others in town.

Episcopal blend

That was quite a bittersweet and joyous celebration last Sunday when the congregants of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Turners Falls formally united with St. James Episcopal Church.

Both congregations have shrunk over the years and their merger made sense from a practical point of view.

Some members of the Turners Falls community had been attending their church since its construction in 1921, but on Sunday, they literally moved across the river in a procession of cars, escorted by police from both towns, to join their St. James brethren.

More than 100 people from the two churches gathered for a joint service. The pews in the Federal Street church were filled to the back rows with everyone from young families to elderly couples.

“This is a chance for us to combine our person-power so that we can continue to reach out to the community, in Greenfield, in Turners Falls and in Franklin County,” said Fred Momaney, part of the transition team and a Greenfield church-goer.

And that, after all, is what all our churches aspire to do, and if this change helps, then it will be for the better.

Warwick pinches pennies

Warwick Fire Department has displayed the classic Yankee thriftiness we see so often in Franklin County. Its brush truck is a converted 1983 former ambulance without seatbelts, and the vehicle used to answer medical calls is a 1999 former Chevy Tahoe cruiser.

Fire Chief Ron Gates is hoping his fellow townspeople will agree to spend up to $100,000 this spring for a used emergency vehicle that could double as a brush truck and first responders’ vehicle. Gates hopes the new vehicle will have a diesel engine to ease fuel costs yet carry more water and pump it faster.

“We’re trying to keep the price down, but still end up with something decent that will last a while,” Gates said recently. He sounded almost apologetic, but it sounds like a smart, necessary move to safeguard the town, just as the Fire Department has been safeguarding the town’s tax dollars over the years.