Board of works set to vote on offer to owners of dwellings near Potts Ditch


Some homes near Potts Ditch in central Greenfield have flooded multiple times over the past decade. As they prepare to kick off the ditch's reconstruction, officials are considering buying them. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — The condition of the houses along Fourth Street could deteriorate if the city doesn’t purchase and demolish them, some local officials say.

The Greenfield Board of Works might decide Tuesday whether to make offers to buy and raze five homes on Fourth Street just west of State Street.

The homes are in a floodway and are consistently impacted by the overflowing Potts Ditch. Some say removing the dwellings will assist with the ditch relocation project and help homeowners. But questions persist over the cost and whether the city should use public money to buy private properties.

Potts Ditch is a watershed that runs through the entire city, becoming an underground tunnel once it reaches the downtown area. Because the tunnel is undersized for the amount of water it handles during heavy rainfall, city officials have been debating for decades whether to reroute the ditch.

Last year, officials signed off on a $10 million relocation project; the official approval process for financing will come up at next week’s city council meeting, and ground might be broken on construction by mid-June.

Mike Fruth, the city’s director of utilities, said the properties located at 20, 34, 35, 37 and 106 W. Fourth St. could be purchased to help save with construction expenses and to help the homeowners.

While the city has acquired strips of land for public improvement projects in the past, this would be the first time the city would buy an entire home – or as many as five homes – for a project.

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