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Public Housing Complex Will Be Demolished For Street Extension Project

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WAMC
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        The city of Springfield is planning to take by eminent domain more than a dozen properties, including a public housing authority complex, to improve access and parking for a new community center.  The $10 million South End Community Center is one of the last major rebuilding projects from the tornado that struck the city six years ago next month.

   The taking of the privately-owned land will facilitate a project to open up Marble Street – a dead end street where the new community center is under construction – and allow traffic to flow between two major thoroughfares, Main Street and Central Street.

     Over the last 3-4 years the Springfield Department of Public Works has been involved in designing the project to go hand-in-hand with the building of the new community center, according to DPW Director Chris Cignoli.

   " This will allow better access into the neighborhood," said Cignoli.

    The South End Community Center hosts after-school programs and is used by people from throughout the city.  The new building, which is expected to open this summer, is located a few blocks from the original neighborhood center that was destroyed by the June 1, 2011 tornado.

    The City Council at its June 5th meeting will be asked to authorize $120,000 for the city to acquire a dozen properties to allow the Marble Street Extension project to move forward.  One of the properties being taken is an occupied house, according to Cignoli.

     Eventually the city plans to acquire the apartment complex on Marble Street owned by the Springfield Housing Authority, demolish the buildings, and use the site for parking for the community center.  

   Cignoli said the SHA is in the process of moving about 40 tenants.

   " It is an extremely antiquated facility, so once the tenants are relocated it will be turned over to the city," said Cignoli.

   Springfield City Councilor Kateri Walsh, who chaired a meeting of the Maintenance and Development Committee Tuesday to review plans for the project, said she will recommend the full council approve the land-takings.

   " Usually when you have a land taking it can be very controversial, but this does not seem to be the case," said Walsh. " Everybody seems to be on board and the funding appears to be in place."

     The funding is coming from the federal government, part of a nearly $22 million disaster recovery grant the city received in 2013 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

       

   

   

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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