Preliminary renderings presented for Greenfield’s new fire station

  • A preliminary rendering of a “modern teardrop” design fire station in Greenfield. Contributed image

  • A preliminary rendering of a “modern massing” design for the new fire station. Contributed image

  • ​​​​​​​A preliminary architect’s rendering of a “traditional” design for the new fire station in Greenfield. Contributed image

Staff Writer
Published: 10/9/2020 4:14:45 PM

GREENFIELD — The Fire Station Building Committee and those who attended its meeting Thursday got to see three possible designs for the new permanent fire station.

Architect Dennis Ross of Pacheco Ross Architects showed Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, committee members and some residents a modern, a quasi-modern and a traditional version of a new fire station. They are not the final architectural drawings.

The main focus during the meeting was cost, with committee Co-Chair David Singer asking for updates on both the temporary and permanent fire station. The city is in negotiations with the owner of the open-air market property at Main Street and Coombs Avenue, which would house the permanent station.

“We’re waiting to give you a final price for the permanent station,” Owner Project Manager Neil Joyce told the committee Thursday evening before referencing figures for the temporary station. “It looks like it will roughly cost $750,000 to lease two (temporary) buildings on Hope Street and $250,000 to lease the office trailers.”

The city needs $1.7 million for the temporary station, which the Greenfield Fire Department would occupy for about two years while the Greenfield Public Library builds on the current fire station’s property on Main Street and while the department waits for its permanent station to be built. The $1.7 million includes “soft” costs and utilities, and is included in the original $10 million City Council voted earlier this year for the entire project.

But the mayor asked City Council in September to approve another $5 million 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 May, several months after he had left office. City Council plans to have a first reading on the $5 million request this month and vote on it in November.

“The current budget for building the new fire station did not include money to purchase property for the permanent building,” Wedegartner told the committee last month, as originally the plan was to build on municipal land.

Instead, the city hopes to purchase property at Main Street and Coombs Avenue. The city has budgeted $900,000 for the purchase of a site for the new fire station that would include demolition and site prep costs, as well.

Wedegartner said it is possible that even more will eventually need to be raised, but she said the city would seek grants and other types of funding before coming back to the City Council and residents to ask for an increase.

If the fire station project does not move forward, it could lead to a problem for the library and its plans, because to receive the money promised from the state, it has to break ground by April 22, 2021 or request an extension.

Fire Station Building Committee member David Moscaritolo said he’s not sure solid numbers can be reached by the City Council’s November meeting, but every effort will be made, while the mayor said she hopes there is at least a ballpark figure for City Council before it votes. She said the city is already working with its lawyer to come up with the architectural contract.

Initial designs

As far as the new fire station building itself goes, the initial renderings show a modern 20,000-square-foot building with curved roofs and solar panels. There would be bays for trucks and equipment, a living area for firefighters and a public space. The cupola would sit on the roof at the front of the station.

A second, quasi-modern rendering offers a lot of light into the building with the cupola out front, as well, bays at the rear of the building and a living space in the middle.

The more traditional rendering is very much like the current station except bigger. The cupola would sit at the top of the building, as it does now, and much of the design would mimic the current building.

The specifics of each design will be presented to City Council this month, but Ross said other designs could be considered, as well.

“I love the three options,” Wedegartner said. “But we have to remember we are still in the early stages and still negotiating the site, so all of that has to come before choosing a design.”

Cost concerns

City leaders and residents are most concerned about the fire station’s costs. The mayor and others have said $15 million might not be enough and that figure could rise to between $17 million and $20 million, especially with rising costs of materials and construction.

Joyce said at this point, he anticipates there will be no change to the $15 million budget, if approved, but as a greater focus is put on gathering information from vendors, a site plan and utility connections, there will be a better idea of the total cost.

City Council President Ashli Stempel-Rae said she would prefer the council be approached once with a higher number than for the city to keep coming back for more.

Singer said he would like to see the cost of a new fire station not exceed $17 million so the city doesn’t have to go back to the council for more money a couple of years down the road. He said he likes the idea of raising any additional funds through grants.

“I recommend we look at the entirety of the two projects — the library and fire station — and consider them as a $25 million (combined) project,” Singer said.

The city is responsible for $8.1 million of that and the Greenfield Public Library Foundation has agreed to raise $2 million in donations and gifts. The rest of the $19.5 million project will be paid by the state. A $25 million combined project in terms of funding, which some city councilors and committee members were intrigued by, would leave the fire station almost $17 million to work with as it continues.

“At the end of the day, the project could come back to the City Council in a couple of years, if it absolutely had to,” Singer said.

At-Large City Councilor Penny Ricketts said the only thing she doesn’t want to see is the fire station move into a temporary space only to find out the city can’t afford to move forward with building a permanent station.

“That would be terrible,” she said.

Precinct 1 City Councilor Ed Jarvis said he believes moving ahead to ask for $5 million more for the new station makes sense. He said everyone should work toward the goal of spending just that, but if everyone works hard to do so and it still ends up costing more, the issue can return to City Council and the entire city will know that everyone did their due diligence to keep it at $15 million.

Carole Collins, Greenfield’s energy and sustainability manager, said she will work on getting incentives from utilities for the new building, while Wedegartner said she will continue looking at how the city can use Community Development Block Grant money and U.S. Department of Agriculture guaranteed loans to help fund the new fire station.

Fire Chief Robert Strahan reminded everyone that to go out to bid, the city will have to have a budget for the project.

“We can work some costs in or out of the budget,” Ross said. “We may have to cut back on some things but not compromise operations.”

Stempel-Rae said she wants everyone to remember that City Council has the power to appropriate any funds, but it is the residents of Greenfield who pay.

“Even if its rough costs, they need to know,” she said. “They need to see the milestones all along the way. They have to be able to see where the money has and will be spent.”

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



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