City Council allows public safety complex to move forward

  • STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2019 10:58:49 PM

GREENFIELD — The study to begin engineering a new fire station and eventual public safety complex at Beacon and Riddell streets was unanimously approved by the City Council on Wednesday.

A $550,000 appropriation to hire the architect and engineering firms to develop the plans for a new fire station passed with no discussion from the council.

Precinct 7 Councilor and Chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee Otis Wheeler gave a report at the meeting.

“There were four positive votes from Ways and Means,” he said. “There was not a lot of discussion because we already spent a lot of time discussing it.”

The appropriation was previously tabled at the May 22 City Council meeting until after the Nov. 5 vote on the $19.5 million Greenfield Public Library project.

Now that the question has passed, the project can move forward. The new library’s footprint will be built on land the city owns on Main Street, between the current library and post office, and includes the necessary financing to tear down the fire station.

During the special City Council meeting Tuesday, Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan spoke about the need to continue moving forward with the public safety complex on Beacon and Riddell streets.

“The second phase (of the study) was earlier this year. With the direction of the City Council, we were asked to look at city-owned land,” Strahan said. “We really looked into four pieces of city-owned property and found one that was adequate for construction with limited impact to the neighborhood. The best fit would be Beacon Street. It is in the central part of the city, which puts us in the central part of our dispatch area, and it makes sense to go in that area.”

Mayor William Martin told the council the first step in the public safety project is to build the fire station.

“The focus is the footprint for the public safety complex’s total space for (fire, police and dispatch),” Martin said on Tuesday. “The first phase will be for the fire station, so the balance of the land will be reserved for expansion or the completion of the public safety complex at a later date.”

Martin said the planning and design for the public safety complex will be completed all at once.

“All the necessary surveys and information from police and dispatch are already included with the information from the Fire Department, so that space and the footprint to be added is already done, ready for future expansion,” Martin said.

In an interview Wednesday, Martin said approving the appropriation would launch the process of getting requests for proposals. The city would also hire a project manager and the process for design and construction would begin.

“I would expect to have an interview with potential project managers within four weeks,” Martin said. “A public safety complex building committee would need to be formed and appoint people to it. (Mayor-elect) Roxann Wedegartner would share in that process and have input in the selections.”

Estimates for the cost of the project are roughly $10 million, based on costs for other recent fire stations and public safety complex projects in Massachusetts. There is also some funding available from the state.

“The city would communicate with the state and use about $2.4 million earmarked from an economic development bond bill once we have the project manager and rough budget information,” Martin added.

Dating as far back as 25 years ago, reports have stated the fire station has been deemed inadequate for the needs of the department.

In February, a report from Pacheco Ross Architects cited a 2013 report that studied the deficiencies of the current fire and police stations.

A study nearly six years ago stated the fire station is “no longer viable” in its current setup. The location is too small for renovation or expansion, and the lack of space also poses safety concerns. The fire station also does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

The current station, which was built in 1936, is 21,200 square feet, according to the Greenfield dashboard. A Feb. 21 letter from architect Dennis Ross of Pacheco Ross Architects included four variations of what kind of public safety facility could be built at the Beacon Street site.

They can all be reduced in size and have, in fact, already been shrunk. All of the plans leave space for a skate park.

A proposal of a two-floor fire station could come in at 24,800 square feet with a 17,000-square-foot first floor and a 7,800-square-foot second floor. The expansion of this facility could bring it to a 48,800-square-foot public safety complex, including an 18,500-square-foot police station and a 5,500-square-foot dispatch center.

Another version of this 24,800-square-foot fire station has a large first floor of 23,200 square feet and a mezzanine of 1,600 square feet. This would have a similar add-on potential for police and dispatch, bringing it to a future 48,800-square-foot complex.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.




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