Mayor William Martin wants the Greenfield Town Council to act, right away, when it comes the purchasing the former Lunt Silversmiths property.
No shocker there. The future of the former manufacturing plant and its accompanying fields were of interest even before the announcement back in 2009 when the Lunt brand was sold to Reed & Barton of Taunton.
And in the more than three years since, Martin has been beating the drum for having town hall be the guide when it comes to this valuable piece of real estate off Federal Street.
Many residents, too, have thought it makes sense for the municipality to take an active interest in what may happen at Lunt, especially concerning securing the fields used so prominently by the Greenfield Minor League for youth baseball for decades. That interest, however, has been tempered by a wariness over such a financial investment on the part of the town.
It’s not been a shocker, either, that the council has opted slow down the process, heeding the adage that “haste makes waste.” One of the concerns that prompted the council to postpone voting on the purchase the other night was what kind of protection the town might have concerning future lawsuits, should contamination from the property become an issue for the neighborhood. Council members are right in recognizing that this is an issue could come back to haunt the town, as it has in so many other communities.
Now there is a special council meeting scheduled for Monday to talk more about issue, no doubt based upon the mayor’s suggestion that council shouldn’t wait until later in the month.
To make sure this session is productive, here’s what we suggest to the mayor: Come loaded with information.
If there has been a snag when it comes to what the mayor wants to do and getting everyone else on board, whether it’s councilors or residents, it’s a shortage of hard, factual information.
That’s where the hesitation on the part of the council comes from on the matter of protecting the town from future lawsuits with this purchase. While it is true one can’t prevent all lawsuits from happening, Greenfield can take steps to reduce its liability and it is the mayor that has to spell out how that could be done.
Is it, as the mayor suggested, that the council must have trust that the Martin and Economic Director Bob Pyers know what they’re doing? Yes, but that faith is built upon information and the mayor’s ability to answer questions and fully convey his vision.
This becomes even more of an issue when the mayor’s own thinking on the property may be evolving. Early in conversations, the mayor seemed interested in obtaining the property for municipal use.
Now, Martin wants to have the factory area remain on the tax rolls. Does that mean that the idea of a public safety complex or other municipal use is no longer a desired or viable option? If that’s true, then let the mayor say so clearly.
The Recorder continues to see the value in the town’s taking the lead in the future of this property. But that doesn’t mean that caution, too, shouldn’t be a guide.
If the mayor is able to provide answers to some of these questions, then it’s more likely that everyone’s concerns will be lessened.