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Lunt ball fields, factory

Greenfield recently closed on the baseball field property, paying $660,000 for them, so the town’s youngest baseball players now have three fields of their own to play on for another 50 or more years..  
(Recorder file/Paul Franz)

Greenfield recently closed on the baseball field property, paying $660,000 for them, so the town’s youngest baseball players now have three fields of their own to play on for another 50 or more years.. (Recorder file/Paul Franz) Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — The town is waiting to hear whether its latest offer to purchase the portion of the former Lunt property that includes the ball fields and contaminated factory will be accepted.

Mayor William Martin said that after more than three years of negotiations with the owner of the property, which is currently in Bankruptcy Court, the town has offered $660,000 for 6.62 acres of the 11-acre property off Federal Street.

Martin plans to ask Town Council tonight to approve a $75,000 deposit, if the owner of the property accepts the town’s offer.

The town had originally agreed to pay $1.5 million for the entire property, including a retail building located at the Federal Street end of the property, but when that purchase agreement expired in March 2013, after the town had leased the property for two years with the intention to buy it, Greenfield lost control of it and negotiations have continued since.

“My intention has always been to maintain the fields on that property,” said Martin. “Then, when we found there was off-site contamination, even though it wasn’t bad, the town decided it needed control of the property to protect that neighborhood.”

If the owner of the property accepts the town’s offer, the retail building will be marketed separately, according to the mayor.

The town’s current offer is lower than its previous one because it is based on the town’s 2012 appraisal of the property, which is zoned industrial. Also, the town previously offered to purchase the entire property.

Greenfield Economic Development Director Robert Pyers said the town will conduct a “friendly taking” of some of the 6.62 acres to cover back taxes of about $275,000.

Last year, it was discovered that there was contamination on the part of the property where the old factory sits and that some of that contamination had migrated to several abutters’ properties.

The town has been working with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to formulate a cleanup plan.

According to Martin, the EPA will eventually clean up the property, just as it did the former Bendix-Repal property on the Laurel Street extension, but budgetary constraints may prevent that from happening immediately.

“If the town ends up with ownership, it will happen,” said Martin. “It will happen at some point.”

Martin said the town will continue discussions with the EPA and DEP. He said the EPA will continue to sample the air quality in abutters’ homes and will eventually come up with a remediation plan.

According to the EPA and DEP, testing has revealed “some” off-site contamination, but not enough for an emergency cleanup.

If the purchase goes through this time, the town will form a redevelopment committee, which will be composed of residents, youth league officials and existing town committee members, said Martin.

He said that committee would begin making plans for the 6.62 acres, including whether to simply upgrade and reconstruct the ballfields, expand them and provide lighting and some sort of support structure, or add other recreational elements, including a place for entertainment, public assembly, scoreboards and public seating.

Martin said such projects could end up costing between $700,000 and $2 million, but the town would seek grants for whatever project it might decide to pursue.

The mayor will ask Town Council to consider the purchase at its meeting tonight at 7 in the studio in Greenfield Community Television, 393 Main St., but before the council makes any decisions, it will have to hold a public hearing.

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