Proposed safety complex could cost Greenfield $59M

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2018 6:48:41 PM

GREENFIELD — The proposed public safety complex could come at a higher price than expected, at least according to a draft lease given to the City Council.

Dyer Investment Co. Inc. LLC, a Tennessee-based company that owns the properties on Main Street and Wells Street, where the complex is expected to be built, is requesting as much as $1.373 million in yearly rent from the city during the first year and more in subsequent years. This is considerably more than Mayor William Martin originally suggested, City Councilor Brickett Allis said.

If built, the proposed public safety complex would house the city’s police and fire departments, as well as dispatch. This could make way for the eventual construction of a new public library in the city.

The proposal would include demolishing buildings at both Main Street and Wells Street and a new building constructed on the corner of the two streets, wrapping around an existing building.

The construction would include approximately 20,000 square feet for the Fire Department, about 15,000 square feet for the Police Department, approximately 5,500 square feet for dispatch and another 10,000 square feet of basement space.

Allis said a public safety complex is needed in the city but “I just disagree that this is the plan.”

The draft lease is asking for $114,445 a month from the city for the location for 30 years, though the monthly total could be offset by the sale of the Greenfield police station on High Street to Dyer Investment.

Martin said they could purchase the property for $1 million and could reduce the monthly payment on the safety complex lease by $29,800 for the first 36 months. Martin said the police station was appraised last year for $1.04 million.

But the draft lease also has a built-in 2 percent increase each year of the total owed by the city.

“By year 30, the yearly cost of that is $2,731,975.57,” Allis claimed.

And according to Allis, with just the 2 percent increase factored in, the final cost to the city after 30 years could be $59.34 million.

“And those numbers don’t take into account the option of the landlord to access any interest,” Allis said. “It could be even more than that.”

Martin had previously said he expected a 30-year lease on the complex to cost between $800,000 to $950,000, but was never able to confirm a total. Martin said this total could be offset by a possible regionalization of dispatching services, which could mean the state dispatches from the location for local services, including various police and fire services in the county, state police and Greenfield police and fire.

If the city’s dispatch is absorbed, Martin has said it could free up about $823,000 a year in the budget, which could be used to pay for the lease. But regionalization hasn’t yet been agreed to.

Regarding the higher total on the draft lease than expected, Martin said “one of the major negotiating points … was to allow (City Council) to modify this lease.”

Martin said the council could make modifications and send the draft back to the developer adding that since the lease would be a contract that extends beyond three years, the council should be negotiating it.

But Allis disagrees.

“It’s not our job to do that, (it’s) not what we do as the council,” he said. “We’re supposed to be the check, not supposed to be the one creating this.”

Regarding how to pay for the higher costs if the draft lease is approved, Martin said he didn’t expect to increase the city’s budget. Martin though, previously said he would suggest increasing the budget by $1 million to pay for the complex if the regionalization of dispatch did not occur.

Martin said the increased cost could be off-set by items including tax revenue from expected recreational marijuana sales, increased food and lodging taxes and anticipated revenue growth, but he did not provide an estimate of how much revenue this could generate.

The public safety complex has implications beyond giving the police and fire departments and their dispatchers a new home — their current buildings are said to need millions in repairs.

The complex, if built, would mean vacating the current fire station, allowing for its demolition. Then a new library would be constructed on the site.

The library had an original price tag of $20.5 million, but the project received a $9.38 million grant that is contingent upon City Council accepting the grant within six months and construction beginning within a year and a half, though extensions could be given.

Robyn Provost, vice president of Mowry & Schmidt, a general contractor based in Greenfield working with Dyer owner Billy Walker on the project, said Walker he felt “it would be inappropriate to comment” before the council next meets Aug. 15.

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