January 13, 2014 -Springfield, MA- Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Congressman Richard E. Neal announced today the successful approval of $25 million in reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the destruction of City owned facilities stemming from the June 1, 2011 tornado.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated “After we got through triage and stabilization efforts I stated “my team and I would go after every dime due to our City”. The resolute approach and attention to detail by my tornado team is evident in this successful application for reimbursement.” Mayor Domenic J. Sarno went on to say “I would like to thank all of our residents and businesses for their resiliency and patience; we are not only rebuilding structures but more importantly enhancing human lives. This process was not easy; we had some very good partners along the way, in our federal delegation, Congressman Richard E. Neal and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, as well as Governor Deval Patrick, their assistance was critical in this process.”
"Since the moment the tornado touched down more than two years ago, I pledged to seek as much federal disaster relief as possible. This was simply the worst natural disaster to occur in Springfield in a generation. Our city suffered unprecedented damage because of the storm and significant resources would be required for it to successfully rebuild. With today's announcement that FEMA has approved $25 million in federal reimbursements, I think we were successful in that important endeavor. These funds will help the strong and resilient people of Springfield continue the process of recovery," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
Acting FEMA Regional Administrator Paul Ford stated “FEMA respects the hard work and perseverance of the City of Springfield, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other agencies which have ensured that the maximum allowable reimbursements have been made available for these important projects.”
The initial FEMA review disqualified the old Zanetti Middle School from any reimbursement and approved only $4.2 million for the City owned South End Community Center. Through several appeals and astute adherence to federal rules and regulations by City personnel and consultants, The City of Springfield has now been successfully approved for approximately $25 million, in reimbursement for the damage inflicted on these facilities.
This FEMA reimbursement is in addition to a recent award of $21.8 million in the form of a Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. The city was awarded that funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2013 and HUD has since approved the city’s action plan that dedicates substantial funding to the rebuilding of infrastructure in affected neighborhoods including a major Central Street realignment project as well as new housing and economic development programming.
Additional to these funding sources a new, $27.9 million Brookings School is currently under construction, of which 100% will be reimbursed via the Massachusetts School Building Authority. As well as a $15.1 million renovation to the Mary A. Dryden Veterans Memorial School on Surrey Road. The improved schools along with improved infrastructure, housing and economic development programming offers a focused approach to redevelopment that will help rebuild the most impacted neighborhoods in the city from the 2011 tornado.
As part of the reimbursement process the City had to identify alternative projects the reimbursements would be used and seek approval from FEMA. The reimbursements from FEMA will be used to fund the following approved capital projects in the City:
Clifford A. Phaneuf Environmental Center (ECOS): The Center is currently the Porter Lake Skate House located in Forest Park which houses the City’s ECOS program (Environmental Center for our Schools). Students come from all over the Springfield School System to learn firsthand about ecological principles and outdoor living skills. The City has begun schematic designs to redevelop the building to meet L.E.E.D certification requirements and be a center open to the public year round to learn about renewable energy and ecology. This building will be a catalyst to launching Springfield’s “green culture” and instilling environmental stewardship to our youth. The project will cost approximately $2.75 million and result in 5 environmental design jobs, 40 construction jobs and 2 permanent jobs.
New Senior Center: The new senior center will cost approximately $12 million and consist of approximately 43,000 square feet of programming and office space. The center will be designed with a dining room for 300 and centralized senior related offices for: Elder Affairs, Golden Agers, retirement, health care, fitness and recreation. Activity options include (not limited to): a reading room, creative arts, woodworking, sewing, yoga, theater, music, dancing, gardening, billiards and more.
50 East Street: 50 East Street, formerly the Arthur MacArthur Army Reserve Center, is a facility made up of two buildings which will be renovated to serve multiple uses for the Springfield Police Department. This space with serve as a permanent home to; the SPD’s training academy, Juvenile Assessment Center, Tactical Response Unit (TRC) and an evidence storage system. Total cost for the project is estimated between $7.5 million and $10.5 million. Significant improvements and renovations for this facility are needed to upgrade it from its previous life as a United States Army Reserve Command Center. These plans include an updated fire protection system, as well as upgrades to outdated: plumbing, electrical, boilers, HVAC and heating and cooling systems. A state-of-the-art evidence storage system will be built in the basement of the facility.
Southend Community Center: Mayor Sarno states, “The South End Community Center is very near and dear to my heart. One of the keys to knocking down the urban challenges of poverty and public safety issues is youth development programming, which the South End Community Center has done well for many years.” The South End Community center will remain in the South End. The Emerson Wight Playground will host this facility and compliment the park amenities recently renovated in 2012. The New $8 million facility will be 37,550 sq. ft. It will include 20,800 sq. ft. of program space and 16,750 sq. ft. Gymnasium. The Emerson Wight site will offer great access to the children and offer the opportunity to expand programming at the park during the spring and summer months. This center will continue to offer the opportunity of both after school programming and mentoring youth in sports.