The Recorder – Greenfield committee outlines fundraising priorities for fire station features

Marion Steward

GREENFIELD — Three priorities for fundraising efforts were outlined Wednesday evening at the second meeting of the ad hoc committee seeking additional funding for the new fire station.

Those priorities include an outdoor patio area with privacy fencing, improvements to the station’s museum and the addition of an outdoor memorial, Precinct 9 City Councilor and committee Chair Derek Helie relayed to members Wednesday evening. The possibility of an outbuilding for boat and brush truck storage was also discussed.

“I know they’ve been slashing away at things here and there,” Helie said of his recent meeting with Fire Chief Robert Strahan. “We identified three major points that he would like to see us gear our fundraising toward, which I think is important, because it’s nice to spearhead one area.”

The purpose of the three-member ad hoc committee, formed earlier this year by City Council, is to explore avenues for additional funding for the construction of the new fire station, Helie explained at the committee’s inaugural meeting last month.

The formation of the committee originally stemmed from a discussion initiated by At-Large Councilor Christine Forgey, during which she relayed to councilors the status of the budget for the project, as well as anticipated difficulties given the expected increase in material cost and supply chain issues.

The overall $17 million budget for the fire station, slated to be built on Main Street near Coombs Avenue, includes $2 million for the construction of the temporary fire station on Hope Street, in addition to construction for the new station, professional fees and contingency funds. The temporary fire station, which the department moved into in September, is expected to be used for two years.

Forgey’s concerns followed a Fire Station Building Committee meeting on Jan. 13, during which members voted to transfer the $615,000 allocated for furniture, fixtures and other expenses into the construction budget, which now totals $12.1 million.

The transfer was approved to allow one previously defined “alternate” — epoxy flooring — to be included in the overall construction budget for the architects to incorporate into a design before going out to bid.

“We are close to going out to bid for contractors for the project, so we needed to know the overall shell and main components of a fire station … right away,” Strahan explained on Wednesday.

He said the Fire Station Building Committee is now working to put together a contingency list of alternates for a scenario in which bids come back lower than anticipated and contingencies, in the order they are listed, can be restored to the overall project.

As for the priorities he hopes to see the ad hoc committee pursue funding for, Strahan said he appreciates the members’ efforts.

“It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but an outdoor area to eat outside, to cook outside, is something that would improve the quality (of life) for the firefighters working there,” Strahan said. “The other area we talked about is some type of memorial out in front of the station, where we have the old cupola … that we’d like to refinish.”

Additionally, at the expense of changes to the overall structure, the Fire Station Building Committee was able to restore the indoor fire station museum to the project.

“I think we have opportunities to do something really nice that I believe is going to be outside of our budget, and where future fundraising activities could go,” he said.

And finally, an outbuilding, he said, is going to be critical for the department. Strahan alluded to the concept of an outbuilding potentially being built on the north end of the city, but emphasized his current priority to focus on the land being used for the permanent station.

“That’s a project for many years, or a few years, down the road,” he said. “But I do appreciate having that talked about and at least getting it into people’s mindset.”

Strahan said the department is working to secure grants to help cover other major expenses, including a new air filling station. He also hopes to apply for a grant to fund the purchase of a new gear washer.

“We go after every grant there is possible,” he said. “Unfortunately, they’re few and far between. … We watch for them all the time, and we apply for everything we can.”

Forgey suggested that as an item for discussion at a future meeting, committee members should focus on revenue sources. She also called on residents to share ideas.

“I would encourage members of the public, right now, as we’re brainstorming — if you’ve got ideas that we haven’t even thought about yet, please get in touch with us and let us know what you’re thinking about,” Forgey said. “You never know, it could be the one idea that saves us.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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