Mayor Martin: Parking garage needs funding

GREENFIELD — The mayor has not abandoned plans to build a three- to four-story municipal parking garage off Olive Street, but it may take a little longer than he had originally hoped.

Mayor William Martin said that with plans for passenger rail to come to Greenfield by December 2014, and courthouse renovations expected to be completed in 2017, he’d like to see a parking garage with about 300 spaces built there within the next two or three years.

“We haven’t been able to secure funding for it yet, but we’re still working on it,” said Martin. “We still have options we’re looking into.”

Martin said one of those options is for the town to reapply for a MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant.

MassWorks turned down the town last year when it asked for $9.3 million for the garage.

Greenfield Director of Planning and Development Eric Twarog said according to the latest plans, the garage will most likely cost between $5 and $7 million.

Martin said another option would be for the town to get a grant and then fund the rest of the project with a revenue bond. He said a revenue bond would be paid back with the revenue from parking.

The mayor and the other town officials he is working with on the project, including Economic Development Director Robert Pyers and Twarog, said they don’t want the project to cost the town’s taxpayers.

“There’s just so much activity in that area, and the rest of the downtown, that we need a garage, especially when rail comes and the courthouse returns,” said Martin.

In 2008, while Martin was chairman of the Greenfield Redevelopment Authority and a year before he became mayor, the authority bought the former Hapco building on Olive Street, which had been vacant since 2006, for $130,000, with the intention of razing the 89-year-old building to make way for a parking garage.

Since then, the town has done a couple of site assessments there, had a preliminary geotechnical engineering study done, had parking and circulation analyses done, updated a parking study done in 2008, and had a preliminary schematic design report done.

The town has spent about $650,000 in grants so far to pay for the preliminary reports and assessments.

The town plans to demolish the former Hapco building, and grant money will also pay for that work. It is estimated that it will cost about $50,000 to raze the building.

The state Historical Commission has given the town permission to raze the building, which had been deemed eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town has agreed to incorporate some of the former Hapco building into the construction of the parking garage and even agreed to erect some sort of museum elements within the garage that would depict the town’s transportation history.

A 2008 parking study by the town revealed that parking is an important part of downtown revitalization. A recent update of that study revealed the same.

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