Building committee restores museum to Greenfield Fire Station’s design

  • The empty lot that will be the site of the future Greenfield Fire Station on Main Street near Coombs Avenue. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Fire Station Building Committee has ensured that these and other artifacts will have a home in the new fire station. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2022 11:49:28 AM

GREENFIELD — The Fire Station Building Committee approved a design change request by Chief Robert Strahan that would effectively restore the museum into the overall construction budget.

“We’re going to hear that’s a need and not a want,” Strahan said. “I would argue, although not critical to operations, it is critical for our department. Every fire chief in the history of the department has had the honor to be the custodian of the hand pumper. I don’t want to be the first chief that doesn’t have a place for that to go.”

He spoke also to the contributions of Greenfield firefighters — past and present — that the museum would serve to recognize.

Prior to the unanimous vote Thursday evening, the museum was included as an alternate, with an estimated cost of $134,708. Strahan’s request involved reconfiguring the bays to reduce the overall square footage at a cost savings of roughly $300,000 — $134,708 of which would go toward the museum.

“I talked to some of the firefighters around what I’m proposing, and we all agree that this is something we can do,” he said. “It we were to square off those bays and make them double deep, that is a significant cost savings in square footage.”

He noted that both the previous fire station and the temporary fire station on Hope Street operate with four double-deep bays.

“We can make it work, especially with that outbuilding,” Strahan said, emphasizing the outbuilding would only be for auxiliary equipment, not primary response trucks. “This restores at least one … thing that is really, really important.”

Architects at Pacheco Ross Architects agreed that it was a viable plan.

“And as the chief pointed out, it’s not sacrificing the functionality,” said Architect Katrina N. Pacheco.

Fire Station Building Committee member Ed Jarvis, a retired firefighter and past deputy fire chief of the department, said he was “ecstatic” the museum would be included in the project.

“Years ago, I was one of three or four people that took the trip down to New York City to get a piece of steel from the World Trade Center,” said Jarvis, who is also city councilor for Precinct 1. “To me, that is not only Greenfield history, that is a world event and ... I’d like that to have a special place in the museum.”

The discussion at the special meeting Thursday evening followed last week’s meeting during which the Fire Station Building Committee voted to transfer the $615,000 allocated for furniture, fixtures and other expenses into the construction budget, which now totals $12.1 million.

The transfer was approved to allow one previously defined alternate — epoxy flooring — to be included in the overall construction budget, up from $10.1 million, for the architects to incorporate into a design before going out to bid.

To achieve the $12.1 million budget for construction, Project Manager Neil Joyce noted Mayor Roxann Wedegartner had committed $1 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), bringing the city’s total pool of money for the project up to $11.1 million for construction. Another $400,000 was previously moved from contingency into construction, and the $615,000 transfer from the furniture, fixtures and other expenses account last week helped to make up the difference.

The overall $17 million budget for the new fire station, slated to be built on Main Street near Coombs Avenue, includes roughly $2 million for the construction of the temporary fire station on Hope Street, in addition to construction for the new station, professional fees and contingency funds. The temporary fire station, which the department moved into in September, is expected to be used for two years.

Strahan told committee members that he was “humbled” by a discussion that took place at a City Council meeting on Wednesday night, during which At-Large Councilor Christine Forgey asked councilors if there was anything the city’s legislative body could do to help support the project.

The discussion, which came up at the tail end of the meeting as an item of new business not reasonably anticipated to be discussed, prompted a general conversation as to what role City Council has in the project.

“I feel there is a role in helping to solve this problem,” Forgey said.

With consideration for the progress the Fire Station Building Committee has to make toward putting the project out to bid, members seemed in agreement with the idea to create a subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee to begin a discussion.

At the Fire Station Building Committee meeting on Thursday, Forgey implored the committee to create a list of what it needs from the city.

“The best thing that happened last night,” Forgey said, “was that there was a great deal of interest … in helping to see this project through.”

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


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