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Will council buy Lunt plan?

Purchase makes sense to its chairman

Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin may be about to scratch a big item off his Christmas list, provided the Town Council goes along with the plan Wednesday.

Martin has asked the council to appropriate $75,000 for a down payment on the former Lunt property on Federal Street, that includes the stretch of land at the rear of the factory housing three Little League fields that a lot of Greenfield residents have come to view as sacred ground.

“There’s a lot of history there,” Martin said. “In the last 100 years, it has been a plant that has provided jobs and tax revenue to the town and for the last 51 years, it has provided Lunt Field, which has been an important recreational spot for baseball and a lot of other town activities, so we want to continue that.”

The cost to buy the property is $1.5 million, which seems like a relatively modest price tag, assuming the town doesn’t wind up on the hook for what could potentially be hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up whatever environmental contamination may be leftover from close to a century of silver-making. Martin is certainly aware of that problem, and has, presumably, taken it into consideration over the last several months of negotiations with the current owners.

When it does come to the council floor, it will do so with the full support of council President David Singer, who has been involved in the tail end of the most recent negotiations.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Singer said. “Of course, the devil is always in the details, but I agree in general that we should take site control of that property.”

Singer also thinks there is a way to bring down that $1.5 million asking price, while protecting Lunt Field in the process.

“I think there is a way to subdivide that property and make the ball fields a recreational space, and then sell the development rights back to the state, which should allow us to recoup some of that $1.5 million purchase price,” Singer said.

To do that will require the council to rezone, or “spot-zone,” that property, something that has traditionally been frowned upon in Greenfield. But Singer says this is different.

“I feel pretty comfortable that we can change that zone without it being characterized as spot-zoning,” Singer said “It’s in the best interests of the community to change that zoning anyway, so this would be doing it for the right reasons.”

Passed over

Speaking of the council, if Douglas Mayo wants to become a member of that municipal body, he’s probably going to have to do it through the ballot box.

For the second time this year, Mayo was passed over for a vacant council seat, this time in Precinct 8, to fill the unexpired term of Iris Vincenzio-Rasku, who resigned earlier this year. Singer has recommended that seat go to newcomer Karen Miller, who recently moved to town and apparently came highly recommended by the “Greening of Greenfield” Committee.

“She seems very thoughtful and she likes to get information and she likes to get her information based on all points of view, which is exactly what, I think, is the way this council is being structured,” Singer said.

That left Mayo on the outside looking in, again, after he previously applied to fill Tracey Sutphin’s empty At-Large seat that went to Mark Maloni.

“It’s nothing against him,” Singer said of Mayo. “I just happened to think the other two candidates were better fits for those seats.”

Attempts to reach Mayo were unsuccessful, but he wasn’t the only one left on the cutting room floor. Also passed over for the seat was former Precinct 8 Councilor James Hutchinson.

Marijuana gateway?

You will soon be able to use marijuana as a medical treatment here in Massachusetts, but how long do you think it will be before this commonwealth follows the lead of our friends in Colorado and Washington state and legalizes pot for recreational use? According to state Sen. Stan Rosenberg, it may happen sooner than we think.

“Ultimately, there will be a debate on recreational marijuana in this state, but the question passed on Election Day deals with marijuana for medical use, and we need to do everything we can to regulate it and ensure that the voters will is done,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg is planning to file a bill to that effect, even as a number of communities in the eastern part of the state ram through emergency regulations to prevent medical pot dispensaries from being allowed to set up in their towns — a subject that, surprisingly, hasn’t really come up in any towns in Franklin and Hampshire counties, that, much less surprisingly, voted overwhelmingly in favor of Question 3’s passage.

Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder, and is a Greenfield native.

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