Town to buy Lunt
The EPA is going to test the site of the former Lunt Silversmith property on Federal Street.
Recorder file photo
GREENFIELD — The town will buy the former Lunt Silversmiths property on Federal Street and begin marketing it to developers by next spring.
Town Council has voted unanimously to pay a $75,000 down payment and move ahead with the purchase and sale agreement the town has with Lunt, with the hopes of putting the property back on the tax rolls.
Mayor William Martin and Economic Development Director Robert Pyers told the council at this week’s meeting that a decision had to be made by Dec. 31 or the town would have to renegotiate the terms.
Some councilors weren’t happy with the rushed vote, but in the end all agreed the town should have control of the property and that trumped all else.
Marjorie Lane Kelly, the town’s finance director, said the town intends, at this point, to borrow short-term and pay interest only for the first two years. Then, she said, the town would renegotiate a loan.
The town has agreed to pay $1.5 million for the property.
The town and Lunt both had their own appraisals done — the town’s came in at $2,270,000 and Lunt’s at $2,170,000.
Lunt and the court have agreed to sell the property to the town for $1.5 million because the town has already paid $130,000 to lease the property with the option to buy for the past two years and has used grants to begin cleanup.
“There will be some impact to the taxpayer,” said Kelly, but added it would be “negligible” for the first two years and would not be huge after that. She said exact figures are yet to come.
Council Vice President and At-large Councilor Mark Wisnewski said he had reservations about being asked to vote such an important matter within a week of the mayor presenting the town’s plan and the purchase and sale agreement to the council, but said the Lunt baseball fields, cleanup of the property and redevelopment are major issues of which he believes the town should have control.
“There are some risks, but I don’t see any critical flaws in the town’s plan,” said Wisnewski.
Precinct 2 Councilor Keith Zaltzberg said he echoes Wisnewski’s thoughts about the process, but said if the town doesn’t take control of the property, it could end up sitting vacant for years and he doesn’t want to see that happen to a key piece of property.
Pyers told councilors they were thinking correctly, because the town will have an easier time being awarded grants to clean up the contamination found there — something a developer would have to pay for out of pocket.
Pyers said cleanup costs would make it more difficult to find a good developer.
Martin and Pyers said they will now look to the Town Council to rezone the property, which is currently zoned general industrial. They would like it to be zoned limited commercial-urban residential so that it is consistent with the surrounding area.
Martin and Pyers said there is also a possibility the town could lease space in the newer buildings until the town finds someone to redevelop the property.
They said most likely the older building, where the contamination came from, will be demolished eventually.
“If all goes according to plan, Greenfield will be a better place,” said At-large Councilor Dalton Athey.