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Eminent Domain Controversy Clouds Tornado Recovery Project

artists' rendering of Central Street in Springfield
City of Springfield

A tornado recover project in Springfield, Massachusetts has encountered some turbulence over possible property-takings by eminent domain.

As part of a $3 million federally funded projected to rebuild Central Street through a neighborhood hit by the 2011 tornado, the Springfield DPW is proposing to take ownership by eminent domain of two businesses and a house. 

But city councilor Bud Williams said he doesn’t recall eminent domain every being mentioned during public hearings five years ago on the tornado recovery master plan.

" I have no appetite to vote for eminent domain takings. They can modify this project. Modify it and go back to the state and do it the right way," said Williams.

The city council has scheduled a special meeting for Monday to vote on taking land at a public park for the project, but votes to take the private property will be scheduled for a later meeting.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.