Sen. Rosenberg says money is moving through Statehouse
Greenfield Recorder 03/01/2014, Page A01
By ANITA FRITZ Recorder Staff
GREENFIELD — The town’s efforts to build a parking garage downtown are moving forward with the help of a couple of state legislators.
Sen. Stanley Rosenberg said the garage is one of his top five priorities.
Rosenberg said a $5 million request for the garage has left the House’s bonding committee and gone to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
He said the House approved $2.5 million, but the Senate will send it to the floor for debate at the original $5 million.
It will eventually go to a joint House and Senate committee for a vote.
“A parking garage is a critical element of the redevelopment of downtown Greenfield,” said Rosenberg. “With a new courthouse coming in a few years and the private investments that have been made to downtown buildings, there’s going to be a huge need for parking.”
Rosenberg said as this district’s senator, he does not want to see people coming to Greenfield and “just driving through because there isn’t adequate parking.”
The Democratic senator, who is in line to become the Senate’s next president, said including the municipal garage in the state’s $13.7 billion Transportation Bond Bill will require a roll call vote, which will have to be taken before midnight on July 31. The $13.7 million will be spent on different project that will happen throughout the next 10 years.
Rosenberg said if funding for the garage is included in the bill, it could be built within a year or two, or it could take as many as five, six or more years, but he’s hoping sooner than later.
“It will depend on whether it is approved and makes it to the governor, who will include it in the capital plan,” he said. “We don’t know, though, whether it would be included in this year’s, next year’s or another year’s plan.”
Rosenberg said his first priority is train service through the district.
“That’s a large request of $30 million,” said Rosenberg. “That’s most important, but will require us to press forward for the garage.”
Mayor William Martin, who first discussed the need for a municipal parking garage when he was chairman of the Greenfield Redevelopment Authority, said he is thrilled that Rosenberg and Rep. Paul Mark are both on board and fighting for the project to be funded.
Mark said he filed the request for $2.5 million because the House felt $5 million was high.
“I’m hopeful that Sen. Rosenberg can kick that up,” said Mark. “I think this is an important request for Greenfield.”
The GRA bought the former Hapco auto parts building on Olive Street in 2008 in anticipation of building a municipal garage on that site and adjacent municipal parking lots.
The plan has been, to date, to build a three- to four-story building with about 300 parking spaces.
“It’s taking longer than we had hoped, but we’re moving along,” said Martin.
Most recently, Martin went before Town Council to ask for $150,000 to buy the former Hapco building from the GRA, saying the town has a better shot at state and federal funding if it owns the property.
Town Council said it needs more time to explore all possibilities before approving the money.
The GRA bought the former Hapco building for $130,000 in 2008 and the town has invested about $650,000 in grants to date to pay for preliminary reports and assessments.
Martin estimates it will cost between $5 and $7 million to build the garage.
In 2012, MassWorks turned the town down when it asked for $9.3 million to build it.
The mayor has not ruled out the possibility of the town funding the project with a combination of grants and a revenue bond, but said Rosenberg’s and Mark’s help is very promising.
“We don’t want this project to cost (local property) taxpayers,” said Martin.
The intention is for the town to raze the 94-year-old Hapco building. Town Council has already approved the $40,000 that will cost.
The town has already done a parking and circulation analysis, as well as a couple of downtown parking studies. It also has a preliminary schematic design report.
The state Historical Commission has given the town permission to raze the Hapco building, which had been deemed eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In return, the town has agreed to incorporate some features of the building into the construction of a parking garage.
The town’s two parking studies — one in 2008 and one more recently completed — concluded that parking is an important part of downtown revitalization.