Town Council has full plate this week
GREENFIELD — Town Council will have a full plate Wednesday night as it discusses and votes on everything from a Native American Burial Ground ordinance and updated wetlands laws, to money for a splash park and the purchase of three ball fields the town has used for more than 50 years, to tax increment financing for a local company considering expanding and $150,000 to repair a bridge that leads to the town’s swimming pool.
The council’s Appointments and Ordinances Committee will make a recommendation to the full council to vote changes to the town’s wetlands laws, which have not been updated since 2001.
After several months of discussions and debates, the committee said it believes it and the Conservation Commission, which worked together to amend a recent commission rewrite, have come up with a “good ordinance,” according to committee Chairman David Singer.
The amended rewrite leaves a waiver that was added in 2008 and keeps wording that will allow replication of wetlands that get in a development’s way, but not just for any reason.
The Native American Burial Ground Ordinance, originally written and submitted by a resident but amended by the same council committee, says the town will recognize, “to the extent provided for in state and federal law, any known place where American Indian remains have been buried or reburied as an American Indian burial ground.”
The ordinance also says that as soon as human remains of a Native American and/or a Native American burial ground is discovered and reported, and which fall within the jurisdiction of state and federal law, a local advocate for Native Americans shall immediately be appointed by the mayor and the Narragansett Indian Tribes. That representative, according to the ordinance, shall have local jurisdiction over and participate with others having jurisdiction in the enforcement of state and federal law relating to treatment and protection of the site.
Splash park and ball fields
The council will decide Wednesday whether the town will spend $660,000 to purchase three ball fields on the former Lunt property on Federal Street that have been used by the town for the past 50 years.
Mayor William Martin has decided to buy only the 6.2 acres of the property where the fields are located and take the factory by a friendly tax taking, because there are about $275,000 in taxes due the town.
Martin has said the federal Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to clean the property and surrounding neighborhood, which was contaminated by the factory — some of the contamination moved off of the site — once the town owns it.
Council will also have to approve $50,000 for a splash park for Hillside Park so that the Recreation Department can move forward using a $200,000 grant from the state for the project.
The terms of the grant require a $50,000 match from the town. The project will be overseen by the Recreation Department and Department of Public Works and the town hopes to have it up and running by mid-summer.
Nashs Mill Road bridge
The council will have to decide whether to approve $150,000 to start the engineering design of the replacement of the bridge on Nashs Mill Road. In 2012, Massachusetts Department of Transportation reported the bridge has a “severe to major deficiency.”
The new design will incorporate the extension of the water main from the west side of the bridge to Leyden Road.
The council will also decide whether to offer Kennametal Inc. Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which would relieve some of the tax burden of the company.
The descendant of Greenfield Tap and Die tool makers will decide shortly whether to expand its operations in Greenfield or North Carolina.
Kennametal has said it will invest almost $5 million and hire 70 new employees over the next four years as it closes its Vermont plant and consolidates here or the South.
The Greenfield and North Carolina plants are vying for the move by offering incentives.
The plant on Sanderson Street was the Greenfield Tap and Die plant until Kennametal bought it in 1997.
Greenfield Tap and Die was founded in 1912 as a holding company producing thread cutting tools or taps and dies. It was founded by Frederick Payne and Frank O. Wells. The company took over the Russell Manufacturing Co., combining the two large businesses to create the world’s largest tap and die company in the world at the time.
Kennametal bought the company in 1997. Since then, Kennametal has run the one plant in Massachusetts.
Kennametal currently employs about 60 people. That will more than double if it moves its Vermont work to Greenfield.
Once the council has approved or denied the tax break, the state will decide what it can do for the company and soon after that, Kennametal will decide where it will expand.