If inmates move into Econo Lodge, homeless must move out

17 families currently reside in Burnett Road hotel

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – 22News continue our coverage of a story you saw first right here on 22News Thursday evening: potential plans to relocate the Western Mass Correctional Alcohol Center from downtown Springfield to the Econo Lodge in Chicopee.

MGM Springfield has broken ground and is coming to town. And that means many South End neighbors have to find a new home. The Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center on Howard Street has about a month to find a site for close to 200 recovering inmates. Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos suggested the EconoLodge.

But the Econo Lodge isn’t a vacant site. Right now at least 17 homeless families live here. And before the 182 recovering inmates could move in, those homeless families would have to be relocated by the state.

22News spoke with a Chicopee mother who asked to stay-off camera because she works at a local hospital and has cared for many of these homeless families. She sympathizes with their needs, but thinks the new facility could help even more recovering addicts.

“Especially if it’s going to be safe, secure, and help people get back on their feet. It won’t be a bad thing for Chicopee, it might actually be a safer situation for the Econo Lodge than what it is right now,” she said.

22News asked Sheriff Michael Ashe how the Econo Lodge and adjoining bar would change. He said all that signage would be removed — the hotel would become more like a military barracks.

“We run a very tight ship. Bed inspections, 47 hours per week that every offender is involved in programs. There’s a great deal of discipline and structure,” said Sheriff Michael Ashe.

And it’s a tight ship that works. Sheriff Ashe said they’ve impacted more than 17,225 offenders, and the program has an 88% compliance rate.

Sheriff Ashe said they are still in the process of exploring other sites, and it’s not a done deal just. One thing that is for sure is they’re out of the south end May 8th.

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