SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – More than five years after a tornado destroyed Springfield’s South End Community Center, a new one is being built. An official groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday morning at Emerson Wight Park.
The community center will take 12-18 months to build, depending on the weather. It will cost the city $4 million, with $6.2 million being paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Because the city received federal money for Emerson Wight Park in the 1970s, they had to jump through some hoops to be able to construct a building on park land.
Fortunately, the long wait is almost over for the children of the city.
“They’ve been asking when they see us: ‘When is the center coming back? How can they get involved?’” South End Community Center Executive Director Chae Swan said.
The city needed two federal approvals for this project. One to put a building in a park and another to knock down a housing authority complex.
The executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority told 22News that they received federal approval to knock down a Housing Authority building behind the community center.
The people who live in the housing authority will be given vouchers for new homes. The land will become a parking lot for thee community center. The city will get rid of a crime ridden cul-de-sac on Marble Street and construct a road all the way through to Maple Street.
The original South End Community Center was located on Howard Street, on land that is now part of the MGM Springfield casino site.