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Greenfield garage nearly ready, comes with ‘fossils’

  • Artist Thor Holbek paints a faux rock with embedded fossils in the small park leading from the new parking garage to Bank Row. October 19, 2018 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Dinosaur tracks are embedded in the serpentine walkway in the small park leading from the new parking garage to Bank Row. October 19, 2018 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Dinosaur tracks are embedded in the serpentine walkway in the small park leading from the new parking garage to Bank Row. October 19, 2018 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Dinosaur tracks are embedded in the serpentine walkway in the small park leading from the new parking garage to Bank Row. October 19, 2018 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz



Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

GREENFIELD – The finishing touches to the Olive Street parking garage are being completed, including a pocket park honoring the city’s role in the discovery of dinosaurs.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. will mark the opening of the the approximately 270-space project, which has been estimated to cost $10.7 million. It has been under construction for more than a year but sought by city leaders and merchants for decades.

Mayor William Martin said motorists can use the garage free for November and December.

“This will also give us some important data on usage and peak times so we can optimize garage operations and study traffic and parking impacts. We know there will be adjustments for operations and to respond to user comments,” said Martin.

The ribbon-cutting will also mark the opening of a pocket park between Bank Row and the garage dedicated to the town’s role in history of dinosaur study.

Sandy Thomas of Greenfield said the concept for the park was to honor two Greenfield residents who have made scientific innovations.

Those 19th century figures are Lorenzo Langstroth and Dexter Marsh.

“Langstroth is the father of modern beekeeping. (In the 1850s, he) learned how to create beehives that allowed for harvesting honey and keeping the bees healthy,” Thomas said. “The other person is Dexter Marsh, who found what he believed were turkey tracks set in stone he was laying as a sidewalk on Bank Row in the 1835.” They turned out to be dinosaur tracks, as scientists at Amherst College later concluded.

Thomas said she teamed up with people in the community to create the structure outside of the parking garage.

Artist Thor Holbek created structures in the pocket park including dinosaur track facsimiles in the sidewalk, a sculpture of a beehive, and a boulder-like structure with facsimiles of dinosaur fossils. There will also be a Dilophosaurus “skeleton” that will serve as a bicycle rack. There will be signs with educational displays with information about the structures, bees and dinosaurs.

The pocket park has taken about a year to complete and cost about $30,000, paid for with federal Community Development Block Grant funding, according to Thomas.

“It’s important to to honor and help tell the story of Greenfield’s history,” Thomas said. “Maybe we’ll inspire someone else’s curiosity or discovery.”

John Benzinger, who is overseeing the garage construction for the city, said “Now we’re working on the little details, everything’s pretty much done … We’re installing security cameras, doing landscaping and finishing the sprinkler system. We’re installing glass on one of the stair towers.”

“It’s exciting to see the fruits of our labor,” Benzinger said. “We’re on time and on budget. It’s been a good project.”

“We are anxious to open. I’ve worked on this for over 10 years and it’s a pleasure to see it realized,” Martin said.

Beginning on Jan. 1, the first hour of parking will be free. After that, parkers will pay $1 per hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All other times the rate will be 25 cents per hour.

There is a maximum of $10 a day, $60 a week and $180 a month.

The garage will be controlled by a mechanical gate system, similar to Northampton’s E. John Gare Parking Garage, and parkers will take a ticket upon entry and pay upon exit.

Permits, which will allow 24/7 access to the garage, will be available for $65 a month. As monthly permits will be automatically renewed, permit holders must have a debit/credit card and email address. Permit holders will be issued a unique bar coded card for entry/exit.

As the number of permits is limited, there will be a lottery on people interested in a parking permit can sign up on the city’s parking website at www.greenfield-ma.gov/parking before Nov. 9 to be entered into the lottery. On Nov. 14, permits will be decided by a random number generator.

During snow emergencies, the first three floors will be available for free overnight parking to allow the DPW to clear parking lots more efficiently, according to Marlo Warner, director of the Department of Public Works.