Greenfield garage opens, with promise of boost to downtown

  • Architect Margo Jones of Greenfield speaks at opening ceremonies at the Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield Friday morning. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • People gather for the ribbon cutting of the Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield on Friday morning. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • People gather for the ribbon cutting of the Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield on Friday morning. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • The view of the Greenfield Common from the top floor of the Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield Friday morning. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • The pocket park entrance off Bank Row to the Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield that has replica dinosaur tracks and fossils. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • One of the electric car charging stations in the Olive Street Parking Garage. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jay Ash, secretary of housing and economic development, talks to a reporter at the Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield Friday morning. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/9/2018 5:27:01 PM

GREENFIELD — Looking out on the autumnal landscape from the top floor of Greenfield’s new parking garage, you could see Mount Sugarloaf in the background. Peering between the foliage there were other landmarks that people pointed out. 

There was the Franklin County Justice Center, the John Olver Transit Center, Bank Row buildings like the new District Attorney’s Office. 

“I can’t think about a better example of all of this work that’s been done in this area, all culminating with this project,” state Rep. Paul Mark said, standing at the top of the long awaited Olive Street garage with other local and state officials who had a hand in the $10 million project that had been envisioned for decades.

The $10 million, 270-space, four-floor garage, which local merchants have for years argued would benefit downtown by providing more parking in at its core, officially opened to the public Friday. The garage will be free for use until January.

It was the culmination of one the promises of Mayor William Martin’s political career. He first spoke publicly about the idea of a garage on Olive Street in 2005. Martin though couldn’t attend the opening because of a death in his family. 

“We did everything we could to make this project a reality, with the weight of the Senate president’s office,” Mark said. 

State Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash said it was then-Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst who was the driving force to ensure Gov. Charlie Baker would fund the project. 

“To be honest with you, we don’t fund the building of parking garages typically,” Ash said. 

After four failed attempts to get state funding, the MassWorks program ultimately invested $7.5 million, with the other $2.5 million coming from Greenfield. 

“There’s something happening here that you all know,” Ash said, noting, “central to a healthy downtown is a place to park.” 

Speakers also celebrated the local construction of the project and history incorporated into the garage. 

“I’m so grateful to be here today with this final effort that actually gives you fabulous views of the downtown and over many years will strengthen the downtown,” said Margo Jones, principal architect of Jones & Whitsett Architects, which is based in Greenfield. 

Director of the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College, Alfred Venne, spoke about the unique history this Olive Street lot had underneath it, tightly tied to Greenfield’s history of early dinosaur fossil discoveries and beekeeping. 

The lot includes a “pocket park,” on the Bank Row side, which recognizes the scientific work of local residents in the 1830 to 1850s. Local legends like Lorenzo Langstroth, credited with inventing the standard beehive used today worldwide, and Dexter Marsh, who discovered fossilized dino tracks on Bank Row, are honored in the educational park. 

“I’m hopeful the work will inspire the next generation of citizen scientists in Greenfield,” Venne said. 

Assisting Venne, was Sandy Thomas, project manager of the park, and: Sarah Doyle, a writer and editor and a Turners Falls resident; Thor Holbek, the exhibit’s fabricator and a Shelburne resident; and Alison Wood, the graphic designer from Florence. 

“We couldn’t build this stunning parking garage,” Thomas said, “without putting a stake in the ground honoring the discoveries beneath us.” 

Reliefs over the entrance also pay homage to the town’s history as a transportation hub in its early years.

“MassWorks is one of many administration initiatives that enable local communities to tap into private investment and accelerate local economic growth across the Commonwealth and we are pleased to partner with Greenfield on the completion of this important project,” Baker said in a press release today.   

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