Councilors support resolution to pursue Hope Street lot in Greenfield for mixed-income housing

  • Greenfield City Council has supported a resolution requesting the mayor “proactively seek” avenues for development of the Hope Street parking lot as mixed-income housing when the site is no longer needed to house the temporary fire station, pictured. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2021 4:08:18 PM

GREENFIELD — City Council has supported a resolution requesting the mayor “proactively seek” avenues for development of the Hope Street parking lot as mixed-income housing when the site is no longer needed to house the temporary fire station.

The resolution, which received a majority positive recommendation from the Economic Development Committee earlier this month, was initially brought forward by Precinct 5 Councilor Tim Dolan.

“I see it as a win-win-win,” Dolan said. “It’s a way to make use of the garage that is under-utilized, get properties back on the tax role and also fill in this big ugly hole we have in our downtown area.”

For about the next two years, the temporary fire station will occupy the lot while the new fire station is built near the intersection of Main Street and Coombs Avenue. The city closed on the sale late last week.

Prior to a vote by councilors at an Oct. 20 meeting, several residents spoke in support of Dolan’s resolution.

Speaking to the need in Greenfield for mixed-income housing, resident Susan Worgaftik asked councilors to consider that “houseless” people aren’t necessarily just those who are living on the street.

“Who are these folks?” she said. “They are the people who work at gas stations, serve you your food in restaurants, ring up your groceries and some of them work in our public schools.

“They are two single parents who are sharing a two-bedroom apartment with their five kids; they’re young single adults who are couch surfing with their friends,” she continued. “We have to recognize that we’re talking about our neighbors.”

Worgaftik added that the Hope Street lot is public land and in proximity to downtown and public transportation, but is also close to Franklin County’s YMCA, where child care is provided.

Resident John Garrett, who said he is in the closing process for a house on Hope Street, said he is very receptive to having more neighbors in the future.

Dolan emphasized to councilors that the resolution doesn’t propose a specific project; rather it serves as a recommendation to the mayor.

“We definitely need to do more research,” he said. “I learned after spending six months looking, that we don’t have a clear sense of parking we need. We don’t keep data about how full our lots are. … We need to do that, one way or another, before we start thinking about … our parking supply.”

With housing rates going up, Dolan said he hopes this resolution communicates to Mayor Roxann Wedegartner that housing is a priority.

Precinct 1 Councilor Ed Jarvis said he is in full agreement with the resolution.

“The tax revenue has to far outsee any revenue from parking meters,” he said. “I can’t believe parking meters make as much as property taxes do. … I don’t believe the loss of revenue is going to be that great in comparison to the gain in taxes.”

At-Large Councilor Philip Elmer added that Wedegartner’s office “assured us” there is more money to be made from residential tax revenue.

Following an amendment that offered clarification as to the body of government requesting this action of the mayor, the resolution received a unanimous vote of support.

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


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