Buckland officials consider possible uses for former Police Station

The Buckland Police Station on Conway Street.

The Buckland Police Station on Conway Street. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 12-13-2023 5:43 PM

BUCKLAND — With permission from Town Meeting voters to sell the former Police Station on Conway Street, the Selectboard hosted a listening session Tuesday night to hear what residents want to see in the space, with many throwing their support behind a community health center.

Over the summer, the Buckland Police Department merged with Shelburne Police, and now policing coverage is based out of the Shelburne station. This left the Buckland building mostly empty — with the exception of a satellite office space rented by a regional heath service — so the town decided to sell it.

The Buckland station was constructed in the 1950s and used to house the offices of the hydroelectric company that proceeded Great River Hydro. Those attending Tuesday’s meeting indicated that while the building has good bones, there are asbestos and basement mold issues and substantial work is required for it to be ready for new occupants. The building is assessed at approximately $421,400.

Prior to the Special Town Meeting last month where voters authorized the Selectboard to begin the process of selling the building, the town received two purchasing inquiries from Great River Hydro, which owns the dam next to the building, and the Community Health Center of Franklin County.

At the meeting, Jay Heilman, owner of JPH Building, a general contractor specializing in residential buildings, indicated he is also interested in buying the building. The company owns another building town, called Firehouse Design.

Many residents spoke in favor of using the building for a community health center. Some benefits include adding much-needed health services for the hilltowns, making it easier for seniors who lack transportation to get health care and bringing another employer to the village. Many spoke about how people travel to Greenfield for services.

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“I would endorse the idea that a medical center should be a priority,” said resident Mike McCusker.

If the Community Health Center of Franklin County were to buy the building, it would not pay taxes to the town, as it is a nonprofit.

However, a couple of people at the meeting proposed keeping the building and renting it, or using it for public restrooms and an electric vehicle charging station. Selectboard members indicated they are against having the town become a landlord.

Others spoke about the possibility of moving the West County Senior Services District to the building, but residents said the district’s board of managers already decided against using that space. Under the West County Senior Services District, the towns of Shelburne, Buckland and Ashfield share a Senior Center that is currently located in the Masonic building in Shelburne Falls.

Selectboard members plan to speak with town counsel about the possibility of creating a criteria list on a request for proposals (RFP) that would allow them to choose a bidder that would best fit the desires of residents. The Selectboard hopes to have more information by the next listening session on Jan. 9.

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.