Editorial: Lunt involvement
It would seem that nothing is ever easy when it comes to developments in Greenfield.
If the public was seeking proof, they need not look any further than the unfolding story involving the former Lunt Siversmith property.
Greenfield Mayor William Martin has decided that a proactive approach in steering the property’s fate was best for one and all ... and he isn’t wrong about that.
Too many communities have seen once-productive properties become not just eyesores or attractive nuisances but something much worse. Or a property can wind up in the hands of someone unprepared — especially financially — for what is required to undertake the renovation and restoration of the property.
Sometimes, whoever acquires the property has no intention of rehabbing the place to begin with, instead seeking to make some quick cash by stripping the building of anything of worth, like copper wiring and piping, before trying to unload it.
And so the mayor decided that Greenfield should be the middle man — working out a deal with Lunt and the federal bankruptcy court to take ownership and then get a reputable developer to take over — to get much of the property back on the tax rolls.
Even knowing that there was going to be contamination of some kind at the former factory and industrial site requiring cleanup, it was still worth the effort on the town’s part.
But now, during environmental testing of the Lunt property, a plume of contamination has been found, forcing the state to ask for more testing of the property. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, especially if the state agreed to the protections the town was seeking when it came to future lawsuits over contamination.
But that’s now all on hold.
Meanwhile, there’s also a new wrinkle to this — a potential change in proposed environmental regulations that would change what’s acceptable readings and, therefore, what is required for cleanup, etc.
Thus the question: Is it still worth it?
Our answer is yes.
Someone is going to have to remove the contaminants from the property. That’s the kind of situation that scares potential new owners away. Like or not, we think the town is in the best position to shepherd the Lunt property through a cleanup, if the state doesn’t undertake it.
But there remain conditions that Greenfield must insist upon, including the necessity of receiving a covenant protecting the town for the future. We’d like to think that the federal bankruptcy court would make sure that any potential profits Lunt might get would go to creditors, including the town, to be used for cleanup.
The Lunt property certainly looks a lot less inviting now. But the town remains a vital player here, no matter how complicated the situation becomes.