Greenfield gets money for parking garage

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker announces plans to build a four-story parking garage off of Olive Street as Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin, Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, Rep. Paul Mark and other officials listen at a ceremony Thursday morning. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker was in Greenfield Thursday morning announcing plans to build a four-story parking garage off of Olive Street. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/27/2016 11:49:03 AM

GREENFIELD — Ten years of perseverance by local and state leaders has paid off — on Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker visited Greenfield to announce $7.5 million in state funding for a new parking garage on Olive Street.

The $10 million project, which has been in the works since 2007, is aimed at reducing anticipated traffic congestion and lack of parking caused by the opening of the new downtown courthouse in the coming months. The four-story, 350-space garage is expected to take about two years to complete, and construction could begin by early 2017.

Greenfield had applied for state money four times in the past, but was turned down each time. On Thursday morning, Baker stood under a tent in the Olive Street parking lot and announced a $7.5 million MassWorks grant to help fund the project. The town will pay the remaining $2.5 million.

“This was a project that people stuck with and continued to work on,” Baker told a crowd of about 50 local and state leaders, residents and business owners. “This is exactly the sort of thing that the MassWorks program is supposed to be supporting.”

State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Rep. Paul Mark, both of whom played an important role in securing state funding, spoke about the importance of the project, saying the garage will support the continuing development of downtown Greenfield.

“The courthouse, without the parking garage, would not have become a complete picture,” Rosenberg said.

Mark added that the project has been fought for at every level of government and will provide improved access to transportation, justice and local business. He said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash played a key role in helping the town properly complete the MassWorks application process at a time when some were ready to give up. During a roundtable discussion in the statehouse, town officials joined Ash, Rosenberg and Mark to hash out what was going on and what wasn’t working.

“The town officials took the lessons from the secretary, took them back here, and I made sure that the conference call happened as the town was doing their application process — they were on the phone with the secretary’s agency, going over it line by line to make sure there were no mistakes,” Mark said.

Many said they hope the parking garage will not only help alleviate congestion caused by the opening of the courthouse, but also spur private and downtown development.

At-Large Town Councilor Penny Ricketts said in addition to addressing parking problems caused by the courthouse, the garage will become crucial on the weekends and evenings.

“Our downtown is changing so much,” she said. “I think it’s huger than people think.”

John Lunt, assistant to the mayor for special projects, put together a temporary parking plan that will stay in place until the garage is completed. He said there are downtown businesses that can’t grow unless they have a place for their clients to park, so the garage will also be good for economic development.

Town Council Vice President Isaac Mass, who attended Thursday’s announcement, said he’s thrilled that the town’s $2.5 million share of the project will not come from taxpayers, but rather from users of the garage.

With funding for the project secured, Precinct 8 Town Councilor Ashli Stempel said the town’s work isn’t done yet. She said the next step is making sure the garage will be affordable for courthouse employees and other users. On the economic development side, she said the garage will create a viable option for new businesses looking to move downtown.

“This just adds to the appeal of being able to find parking options near the local eateries, near the shopping centers, and hopefully we’ll see some of our vacancies filled in the coming months now that there is ample parking,” she said.

You can reach Aviva Luttrell at:
aluttrell@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268
On Twitter: @AvivaLuttrell




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