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Council nixes Hapco buy

Singer keeps borrowing money for building on the table

GREENFIELD — Town Council unanimously voted down a proposal to use $150,000 to buy an unused building that sits on the site of a proposed parking garage.

The town could still buy the former Hapco building on Olive street, though.

Town Councilor David Singer said he was against tying up $150,000 of free cash, though he supports the town’s bid to buy the building. He said he would prefer to do so through borrowing, rather than using available funds.

At press time, the council was preparing to hear a first reading of the bond proposal. It will need to go to a second reading before the council can vote to approve or deny the bond.

Mayor William Martin said that it would be easier to secure state grants to build the parking garage if the town owned the entire property. He did not object to borrowing for the purchase, as long as the town could take ownership before the state transportation bond bill is finalized in March.

The former Hapco building was bought by the Greenfield Redevelopment Authority in 2008 for $130,000, with the intent to raze the structure and use the land for part of a multi-story municipal parking garage. The additional $20,000 would cover expenses and five years’ interest incurred by the GRA.

Demolition of the building is estimated to cost another $50,000.

A downtown parking garage has been years in the making.

Passenger rail service is set to return to Greenfield early next year, and a 300-space garage across the street from the railroad platform would be handy for those who want to catch a train.

The mayor said he hopes the project can be done without affecting taxation.

“We don’t want the project to cost taxpayers,” Martin said, adding that the town could pay for the project with a combination of grants and a revenue bond.

The town had applied for a Mass Works grant of $9.3 million to be used toward the garage, but the application was turned down in 2012.

Martin estimated that construction of a three- or four-story garage would cost between $5 million and $7 million.

The town has already spent about $650,000 for assessments and studies of the Olive Street property, including preliminary geotechnical engineering and schematics design, and a downtown parking study.

If approved, it is estimated that it will take until at least 2017 to build the garage and open it for use.

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