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Editorial: Deal falls through

Greenfield’s plan to take control of the former Lunt Silversmith property is apparently dead.

For a segment of the community’s residents, this news is undoubtedly a welcome relief from what they saw as a horror show unfolding before their eyes: Taxpayer money going down the drain into a toxic pool where all kinds of nasty surprises would be lurking for years ahead.

Other residents saw a different scenario, though, one that was just as frightening: Another former industrial site in town that sat idle and decaying — a target for vandals or would-be owners who would seek some fast cash by removing all what is valuable and saleable inside, leaving a shell behind inhabited by the ghost of, say, a con artist from France.

While we saw the wisdom of the municipality taking charge of the property — especially including the ball fields that have become the home for youth baseball for decades — we can understand how and why the plans fell through.

A number of aspects of this deal simply weren’t settling easily into place. That included getting the state to issue a covenant protecting the town against neighboring property owners from suing over contamination that might leak off-site. That became especially important after Greenfield discovered a previously unknown plume of contamination in groundwater.

Whatever steps Greenfield took in this regard were going to be costly since a thorough environmental cleanup is never cheap, even with money coming from state and federal resources.

Other financial aspects of the deal, however, also changed.

As Greenfield Director of Economic Developer Robert Pyers explained in Thursday’s Recorder story, Lunt’s owners upped the price they wanted for the property by $100,000, and wanted to alter the financial terms between the two sides in other areas as well.

The bottom line here is that it all became too costly.

So it’s a dead deal, but the future of Greenfield’s involvement with the property is far from over. The town should absolutely pursue back taxes, the deposit it paid when the original purchase-and-sale agreement was signed and money it has invested in the environmental testing at the property.

Greenfield should also keep close tabs on what happens Bankruptcy Court, again to see that there are no surprises. Although Greenfield may no longer be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the Lunt property, it is too important to not continue to take an active interest in what’s happening.

That also means that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that some aspect of the deal could rise from the dead.

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