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Greenfield moves ahead with plans for eco-park at former Bendix site

GREENFIELD — The town is moving ahead with plans to redevelop the 17-acre brownfields site currently known as the former Bendix property on the Laurel Street extension.

This week the mayor got approval from the town’s Planning Board to build a road and install utilities on the property so that Greenfield can begin marketing the property to developers.

Mayor William Martin and Economic Development Director Robert Pyers have been working on plans to build a light industrial “eco-park” there, where small businesses would locate.

The former factory site, which was contaminated by the manufacturing that went on there for many years, was taken by the town in 2010 for unpaid taxes of $250,000.

Planning and Development Director Eric Twarog said the town will now apply for a MassWorks Infrastructure grant to pay for demolition of the existing building, construction of the road and installation of utilities.

The town estimates that it will cost about $450,000 to do all of the work planned.

Twarog said that because the property and building are owned by the town, they are eligible for such a grant.

Shortly after the town took the property, it put it on the fast track for redevelopment, but it had to be cleaned up first.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency paid for the cleanup, which was done by Environmental Restoration of Braintree and has been completed. The company removed all hazardous materials it found on the grounds and in the building, according to Pyers.

Last summer, the town worked with Sage Sluter, a student in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, to create a landscaping plan for the property.

She created a site analysis, looking at things like vegetation, traffic circulation, sun, shade, drainage and the effect an eco-park will have on the surrounding community, town officials said.

Martin said a solar farm could be built on the property to provide electricity for the businesses there. He has also talked about someone building an interconnectivity facility for broadband Internet there.

Pyers said he expects that the property would be subdivided in a way that would be attractive and affordable for companies that want to build flex-space buildings ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 square feet.

They have also envisioned one large building that would house several businesses.

Martin said because of the fast-track permitting established for the site, developers would be able to move through the town’s permitting process in a short time.

When the town’s eco-park is complete, Pyers and Martin said, it will accommodate approximately 160,000 square feet of development and could provide up to 100 new jobs.

The property is zoned general industry.

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