Rebuilding a City - NECN

Rebuilding a City



    Rebuilding a city

    Nearly a year after a devastating tornado hit, residents and officials in Springfield, Mass. seek to rebuild (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Springfield, Mass.) - It's been 10 months since the tornado hit Springfield, Mass. - and in some areas, entire blocks are still leveled, while in others the difficult process of rebuilding is well underway.

    On Thursday, the mayor and several other city officials released their long-term redevelopment plan.

    Boarded up homes, fenced off lots and entire neighborhoods that look like a ghost town - that is the challenge the city of Springfield has to overcome in the aftermath of the tornado there.

    "It was just a couple of days after the tornado struck Springfield last June 1st that Mayor Sarno said, look for the silver lining and guess what, we found it," said Rebuild Springfield Co-Chair Gerald Hayes.

    "The silver lining in all this is, Gerry mentioned, hundreds of millions of dollars and three to five years recovery," said Kevin Kennedy, Springfield's chief development officer. "While that's a daunting task, that's a lot of economic activity, that's a lot of jobs."

    And on Thursday, city officials announced its redevelopment plan - a comprehensive road map compiled with input from thousands of residents to try to bring Springfield back to the city it was, and even make it a better place to live, work and play.

    "So this plan was put together to say how can we not only rebuild the tornado ravaged areas, but more importantly let's build on the strengths of the city of Springfield," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

    The plan focuses on first tackling the small stuff - like planting trees, preserving cultural centers, and sprucing up vacant lots - before moving onto larger projects like the South End Community Center and Cathedral High School.

    The goal is to keep residents here by re-creating a sense of community, while the physical structures are being rebuilt.

    "So while we celebrate today the completion of the plan, I think we need to remind ourselves that the tornado is not behind us, the tornado is physically present in Springfield today," said Hayes.

    The mayor says already a good chunk of funding has been secured through private donations and a large donation from Mass Mutual.

    He says he and other officials will work with FEMA, HUD and other agencies to secure the rest of the funding needed for this rebuilding process.