Authorization to sell Greenfield Public Library building heads to City Council

  • The Economic Development Committee, a subcommittee of City Council, has authorized the city to sell the building that is currently home to the Greenfield Public Library on Main Street, pictured. City Council is expected to vote on the subcommittee’s recommendation on June 2 Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2021 4:31:49 PM

GREENFIELD — The Economic Development Committee, a subcommittee of City Council, has authorized the city to sell the building that is currently home to the Greenfield Public Library.

“The city of Greenfield has decided … that it would be more advantageous to sell this property than to use it for the city, for the simple reason that the condition that it’s in — while it looks lovely from the outside — there are many, many issues with it, and they’re expensive,” Mayor Roxann Wedegartner told members of the subcommittee earlier this month.

City Council is expected to vote on the subcommittee’s recommendation at its June 23 meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m., as all municipal building sales require consideration and approval by the full council. It is unclear at this time if the meeting will be in person at the John Zon Community Center or held virtually.

After a brief explanation by the mayor, the subcommittee voted unanimously at its June 8 meeting both to declare the property as surplus, and to authorize the mayor to sell it.

The authorization to sell the library at 402 Main St. comes nearly a decade after the city began discussing the possibility of a new library. In 2019 — seven years after the vision for a new library was first discussed — Greenfield voters approved building a new library with a 61 percent positive vote.

On June 3, the Library Building Committee voted to award a contract to D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc. to construct the new library in the location of the current Fire Station. Construction of the new library is expected to start mid-August, pending progress of moving the Fire Department to a temporary building in the Hope Street parking lot.

“Because you’ve declared (the old library) as surplus property, I have the ability to either sell it at auction, or sell it through the (request for proposals) process,” Wedegartner said. “I haven’t decided which one of those to do.”

While the auction process is quicker, Wedegartner said the request for proposals allows the city to have a little more input in the process.

“We have had interest from a buyer,” Wedegartner said. “I’m not, at this point, at liberty to say who that is.”

Wedegartner declined to share the appraised worth of the building, but referred to it as a “healthy sum.”

She did note, however, that per the last count, the estimated cost for fixing some of the library building’s problems had a total of just over $400,000. That number pertains to issues that arose between 2010 and 2018.

“We know there are handicap-accessibility issues that are not included in that,” she said.

Economic Development Committee member Norman Hirschfeld added that the building is listed as a national historic site, and therefore the buyer would be subject to certain restrictions.

Both votes were unanimous, with only committee member Otis Wheeler absent.

“I think it’s probably the right thing to do,” Wedegartner said of selling the building. “I’ve thought about it a lot since I became mayor and it seems the right thing to do at the right time.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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