Editorial: Complex plans

Here’s what we immediately take away from the preliminary study for a public safety complex in Greenfield: knowledge is power, and empowers you to make smarter decisions.

The information provided by Dennis Ross of Pacheco Ross Architects of Albany, N.Y., does more than provide a baseline on the cost for the construction of such a building, seen in the neighborhood of $16.5 million. No, this preliminary assessment provides food for thought on five different locations seen as potential homes.

No one should be surprised that the former Lunt Silversmith factory site appears to have been the top pick for such a complex, at least in the minds of Greenfield officials. But, as it turns out, the Lunt property, along with three other potential sites — the former Holy Trinity School, a site that housed a Don Lorenz car dealership and the now-closed Friendly’s restaurant on Federal Street — all appear less likely. That leaves the existing home of the Greenfield Fire Department as the only property studied at this time.

And the fire station has its own set of drawbacks. As Ross pointed out, while there is 1.7 acres there, it still would need to be a multi-story building since the land wouldn’t be able to hold a single-story building of the desired square footage and necessary parking. To build a facility that would be able to house and function the way Greenfield emergency personnel envision, it’s thought that the square footage necessary is 44,000. We’d have to think that building a multi-story building would also have issues, particularly with accessibility to floors above ground level. If an elevator is required, that’s going to add the project’s bottom line.

As Ross said, building a safety complex is going to be expensive anyway, what with the stricter building codes associated with such a project and the materials used for construction.

Again, this all gives the town plenty to think about and consider in moving forward. Ross said that the next step for Greenfield is to have a conceptual layout of the complex designed. To us, that only makes sense if the existing fire station is the site the town plans to use. It might make more sense to give another look for potential sites so as to find the best fit for such a building. If Federal Street is the desired location, there could be a place that would require putting a couple of properties together.

That’s just one possibility. Therefore, while it is understandable that the town wants to move forward on a safety complex, no one wants to regret decisions later on.

Let’s make sure it makes sense from every direction.

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