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Public safety complex would cost $16.5M

Recorder file
County chiefs of police are considering a new mutual aid agreement. Greenfield Mayor William Martin has some questions before he is willing to sign on.

Recorder file County chiefs of police are considering a new mutual aid agreement. Greenfield Mayor William Martin has some questions before he is willing to sign on.

GREENFIELD — A public safety complex that would house police, fire, dispatchers and the town’s emergency operations center would cost about $16.5 million to build, according to the architect who did the preliminary study.

Dennis Ross of Pacheco Ross Architects of Albany, N.Y., told the town’s Public Safety Commission, mayor and emergency responders Wednesday night that Greenfield would need a 44,000-square-foot building to accommodate all four departments.

Ross said the cost could end up being a little lower, if the complex is built within the next couple of years, but might go up if it takes longer.

Pacheco Ross looked at five sites in Greenfield, most of which are no longer available. That is because the firm started its study more than a year ago and many of the sites have sold since then.

The former Lunt Silversmith site on Federal Street was chosen as the best site, but negotiations between the town, its owners and the Bankruptcy Court for the town to buy the property recently came to a halt and the deal fell through, so the town no longer has control of the property.

The former Holy Trinity property on North and Beacon streets was also studied, but Baystate Medical Center has an agreement with the Catholic Diocese in Springfield to buy the property and build an office building there.

The former Don Lorenz property on Federal Street was also looked at, but it recently sold to Boston developers who, it appears, plan to bring a Dollar General store to the site.

The former Friendly’s property on Federal Street was considered, but architects said with only 0.79 acres there it is too small.

The only other site considered was the current fire station on Main Street, which sits on 1.7 acres.

“There’s a good chance you could put a public safety complex on that site,” said Ross. “You might be able to make it work.”

Ross said the next step for the town is to have a conceptual layout designed.

“That’s when you’ll find out if it can be done and how much it would really cost,” said Ross.

He said the reason a public safety complex costs so much is because as an essential service facility, it follows international building codes, which are much stricter than the codes other buildings, like malls and office buildings, must follow.

Ross said higher grades of materials are used because when there is a disaster and other buildings are falling down around, a public safety building is the one that must remain standing.

The current police station on High Street, which Ross said police have outgrown at 11,498 square feet, houses police and dispatchers.

The current fire station on Main Street behind the library, which fire has also outgrown, houses fire and the town’s emergency operations center.

The square footage of the fire station was not available at press time.

Ross said if the town were able to build a public safety complex where the current fire station is located, it would probably have to be a multi-story building, because there isn’t enough room, even when using all 1.7 acres, which includes two parking lots, to spread out and build a one-story building.

Town Council approved $21,000 more than a year ago to cover the costs of the Pacheco Ross study. The mayor will now have to go to Town Council, once it is determined how much a conceptual layout design will cost, and ask for that money.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to move forward with this,” said provisional Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan. “A public safety building would be a community building, something we could all take a lot of pride in.”

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