Mayor considers WMECO building for safety complex
The Western Massachusetts Electric Co. building on the corner of Shelburne and Colrain roads in Greenfield is for sale. Mayor William Martin says the building won’t be a good fit for a public safety complex.
Four bay out building at WMECO on Shelburne Rd in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
GREENFIELD — The mayor believes the building Western Massachusetts Electric Co. currently uses as its service center would be the perfect spot for a public safety complex.
Mayor William Martin said he may eventually ask Town Council to consider purchasing the building on Shelburne Road to convert it into a public safety complex that would house police, fire, dispatch and emergency management services.
He said the town could even lease space to the electric company, if it agreed, to keep some of its employees in Greenfield. WMECO recently announced that it will close its local service center and move the more than 20 employees who work out of Greenfield to Hadley.
Martin said he started talking with WMECO after it made its announcement late last year.
“We are in the very, very early stages of discussions,” he said.
“The town is going to need a public safety complex at some point,” said Martin. “We’d most likely have to buy land, when the time comes, and then start thinking about building the complex. It’s all already there on this property.”
The town currently assesses the property, which includes the 35,640-square-foot building, at $1,842,600.
“We don’t even have an asking price to work with at this point,” said Martin. “We are waiting for an appraisal.”
Martin said the town’s fire station is too small at 13,197 square feet and its police station is located in a former medical office building on High Street, which is only 11,498 square feet. He said dispatch operates out of what he calls a “closet” in the police station and emergency management services is located in the boiler room of the fire station on Main Street.
“The town has completed its public safety complex feasibility study,” said Martin. “We need a complex, we know that. It’s just a matter of when and where it happens.”
Martin said the building on Colrain and Shelburne roads would be perfect, he believes.
“We haven’t been inside the building yet,” he said. “We have to make sure things are the way we will need them.”
Martin said he doesn’t typically like to take tax producing properties off of the tax roll, but would consider it with the WMECO property if it were to suit the town’s needs for a public safety complex.
“It might be worth it,” said Martin.
According to Greenfield Assessor Audrey Murphy, WMECO will pay $37,829 in real estate taxes for the property this year.
The mayor said that the WMECO building might even be large enough to move the town’s public works administrative offices there.
William Freeman, assistant business agent for Local 455 of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers and a current line worker (out of Greenfield) with WMECO, has said he thinks the idea is a good one. He said he would love to see the town buy the building and lease space to WMECO.
“We’re always looking at options,” said Martin. “This is one.”
Martin said many municipal buildings were built 50 to 100 years ago and need “serious work” or to be replaced.
“They need to be upgraded, especially for our first responders,” he said.
“This is just beginning,” said Martin. “We’ll have to investigate all aspects of a purchase like this and look at specific issues with our emergency departments and analyze ideas before we make any moves.”
Priscilla Ress, a spokeswoman for WMECO, said when the company made the decision late last year to move out of Greenfield, it contacted the mayor.
Ress said the electric company plans to sell the building, but would not share any details at this point.
“It’s too early to discuss future plans,” said Ress, who said the electric company’s plans to move the service center from Greenfield to Hadley have not changed.