New name, co-chair for committee working on Greenfield fire station plans

  • Firefighters will eventually move from the Greenfield Fire Station on Main Street to a temporary station on Hope Street until a new station is built. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/25/2020 4:03:42 PM
Modified: 9/25/2020 4:03:32 PM

GREENFIELD — The municipal committee that is working on plans for a new temporary, and eventually permanent fire station has changed its name from the Public Safety Building Committee to the New Fire Station Building Committee, and has voted member David Singer as its co-chair with Robert “Butch” Hawkins.

Committee members said they changed the name to accurately reflect and represent what the committee is and what it is tasked with doing.

Originally, the city had planned to build a public safety complex that would have included the fire station, police station, dispatch center and ambulance services, but that has since changed because of costs. Mayor Roxann Wedegartner has said the city wouldn’t be able to afford a public safety complex for at least another 10 years. Meanwhile, a new station is required because the new Greenfield Public Library will be constructed in the fire station’s current location.

The next step in the process will be for the New Fire Station Building Committee’s subcommittee to review conceptual drawings of the temporary fire station, which will be built at the municipal parking lot on Hope Street. Committee members said that review should happen in early October. Eventually, the full committee will vote on the drawings.

Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan recently gave a PowerPoint presentation to show the full committee, as well as city councilors, what will be needed at the temporary station. A couple of weeks later, Owner Project Manager Neil Joyce presented the full committee with more details, including dimensions, of the temporary structure(s).

In the next subcommittee meeting scheduled for Oct. 5, there will be a discussion about specifics and key dates, as well as a review of conceptual drawings of the temporary fire station. In the meantime, the city is preparing to take over the lot and is reimagining where that parking will be moved until a permanent station is built.

Strahan, Precinct 1 City Councilor Ed Jarvis and Herb Forgey are also considering where historical artifacts and cornerstones will be moved from the existing fire station until the new one is built. The three will discuss options with Greenfield Historical Commission Chair John Passiglia.

During a meeting Thursday, Singer inquired about what the temporary fire station will cost and how it will be paid for, and was told figures will be firmer once conceptual drawings are complete. Joyce said he hopes to have preliminary drawings to show the subcommittee on Oct. 5.

“It should start taking shape after Oct. 5,” he said.

Wedegartner has asked City Council to approve by November another $5 million on top of the $10 million it approved earlier this year for a new fire station because there are expenses that weren’t anticipated when the project was first discussed and the former mayor requested money that wasn’t approved until several months after he left office.

It is believed, at this point, that a temporary fire station would cost about $1.7 million to build on Hope Street.

“The current budget for building the new fire station did not include either money to purchase property for the permanent building or purchase and build a temporary firehouse with related structures,” Wedegartner said earlier this month. “Those costs have to come out of the $10 million funding, leaving the budget for design, construction and related ‘soft costs’ short by several million dollars.”

Since the council approved the $10 million in May, Wedegartner said the city has learned it cannot use municipal property on Riddell Street for a permanent fire station as it had originally planned because Greenfield won’t receive the $2.5 million originally earmarked for property cleanup as a result of the pandemic and a related lack of state funding.

Instead, the city hopes to purchase property at Main Street and Coombs Avenue, the open-air market property, for an amount that has not yet been disclosed for the purpose of housing a permanent fire station. The mayor made an offer on the former Carr Hardware building on Main and Wells streets, but never heard back from the owner. That was the city’s first choice.

After the committee finished discussing plans for the temporary fire station on Thursday, it went into executive session to discuss the purchase of the open-air market property at Main and Coombs, citing reason No. 6: “To consider the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property if the chair declares that an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the public body.”

The permanent station would most likely not be built until at least the end of 2023, so the Fire Department would spend about two years at a temporary site.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.



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