WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

Agawam’s National Guard armory is at 140 Maynard St., next to Shea Field, the town dog park, and the skatepark.

Reminder Publishing photo by Tyler Lederer

AGAWAM — The Massachusetts National Guard is looking for state funding for its armories, its Agawam facility included.

In an email, officials said it would take approximately $5 million to fix all the physical problems at the Maynard Street building, which was built in 1960. The 2.9-acre property lacks parking for “privately owned vehicles,” they said. Since 2020, they said, the windows and doors at the facility have been replaced, while the office areas have received new air conditioning and have been brought up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

At a state budget hearing last month, Massachusetts National Guard adjutant general Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe requested funding for the state’s 30 armories.

“They’re abysmal,” Keefe said. “Quite honest with you, if you look at them, and you go through them — mold, lead dust, asbestos. Westfield, we had a ceiling collapse. We’re at the point now where the federal government is no longer paying to build us new military construction for armories.”

Keefe said his organization was looking for a five- to 10-year bonding plan that’ll allow it to build new armories, and repair, sell or demolish current ones.

Mayor Christopher Johnson said the town hasn’t heard anything regarding plans for Agawam’s armory. Nonetheless, he said if the state National Guard decides to sell it, the town would consider buying it.

He noted its proximity to town property at Shea Field, adding, “it might have some potential value as a recreational facility for the town.”

In a statement, Keefe said Massachusetts armories are critical to preparing soldiers for their missions. He also underscored the need for repair work.

“Most of our facilities are more than 50 years old and in need of repairs and modernization,” he said. “Over the last 15 years federal funding for military construction projects has diminished despite the greater need, both globally and domestically. Providing our soldiers safe, modern, and operationally appropriate facilities will enhance our ability to meet ever evolving mission requirements, both globally and as needed here in the commonwealth.”

State Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield), Senate chair of the National Guard Legislative Caucus, confirmed he has discussed the matter with Keefe. He said Massachusetts armories need to be rehabilitated and preserved, and that there should be a serious conversation about a bond bill.

While he couldn’t give an exact cost, he said the bond bill would provide “an inordinate amount of money.”

“We’re in the initial conversations of exploring the possibility of a National Guard-specific bond bill,” he said. “But what that costs look like, I would need to know what armories are out there, because I don’t anticipate them doing it in just Westfield, Agawam … I think it would be all of these armories that are out there now that need this.”

Asked what should be done with Agawam’s and Westfield’s armories, Velis said they should “be befitting of places where the men and women who have the courage to serve their country can go to and be proud of.”

Located at 140 Maynard St., Agawam’s 15,953-square-foot armory building is used for assembling troops, storing equipment, staging missions and monthly training assemblies, Massachusetts Guard officials said. A support team works there full time, they said. The facility is also used as a local base of operations during Massachusetts state emergencies. The National Guard’s Company A of the 1st Battalion of the 181st Infantry Regiment is stationed there.

Alison Kuznitz of the State House News Service contributed to this report.

tlederer@thereminder.com | + posts