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Editorial: Land buys back on table

Greenfield residents learned last week that two significant land acquisitions by the town are back on the table.

On the heels of being informed that the town has made another offer for the former Lunt Silversmiths factory property, including the adjacent ball fields, came the news the community was back in pursuit of the Meadows golf course, at the junction of the Green and Deerfield rivers. These proposals give townspeople plenty to think about and should generate considerable conversation as the town moves forward.

We can understand the desire of Mayor William Martin and others to take control of the future of these two sites. The Lunt factory is certainly a valuable piece of real estate fronting Greenfield’s main north/south thoroughfare — but it may be the playing fields behind the buildings that many residents see as the most prized potential acquisition. The three baseball diamonds are at the heart of the deal, because of their location, community history and the fact that such fields are in short supply in town.

As for the buildings, they’ve been eyed in the past as a new home for the town’s emergency services — and Town Councilor David Singer has suggested that Lunt could become the home to a new town hall.

Acquiring the 50 acres that the golf course sits on off Deerfield Street could open up a number of recreational possibilities for Greenfield — a dog park, skate park, more youth fields to name a few — even if the main focus here is getting additional land for expansion of the waste-water treatment plant.

Yes, there are wonderful possibilities to consider, ones that would help shape Greenfield for years to come. In exploring the proposals, however, the town must be cognizant of the responsibilities inherent in these properties that go beyond buying them. Upkeep, let alone improvements, have to be part of the package that the municipality is willing to take on when it assumes ownership.

We can look around at Greenfield’s existing parks, recreational fields and other green spaces open to the public and see there are needs that are not necessarily being met. It’s not the fault of the Department of Public Works or the recreation department, which have suffered through changes in priorities and budgets that don’t necessarily match well with the work that should be done.

We don’t see things getting any easier financially, even if we don’t take into account that town ownership would mean they were not longer on the tax rolls.

So let’s talk honestly about what such purchases entail in the next few months. Is Greenfield up to making the commitment and investment in these properties?

We would like to think so, but ultimately it’s up to the town’s residents to make sure elected officials know their feelings on the matter.

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