Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts have produced a plan for spending millions of dollars in federal disaster recovery funds. It is the latest step in a long road to recovery from the June 1st,2011 tornado.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno outlined at a city hall news conference Wednesday what he called an action plan for spending more than $13 million to build new housing, repair streets and sidewalks, remove blight, construct a new school and refurbish a park in neighborhoods devastated by the worst tornado Massachusetts has experienced in a half-century.
Earlier this year, Springfield was declared eligible for a total of $21.9 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds. A second plan for $9 million will be announced later this year.
The plan, which will be submitted next week to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, allocates more than $5 million to street and sidewalk projects. Roughly $2 million would go toward developing single- family housing and repairing multi-family apartment buildings. $ 3.7 million goes for the construction of the new Brookings Elementary School. That project got underway earlier this summer. $536,000 would be used to refurbish Nathan Bill Park.
In addition to construction projects, there would be $500,000 loan fund established to assist small businesses
Sarno stressed the projects in the action plan were drawn largely from the Rebuild Springfield Master Tornado Recovery Plan, which was published six months after the tornado and was the product of considerable public input.
Jim Bartlett, who lives in the tornado damaged Maple High Six Corners neighborhood, praised the plan.
Peter Gagliardi, executive director of the non-profit HAP Housing, has been advising Mayor Sarno on tornado recovery efforts.
Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal also welcomed the city’s plans for spending the federal funds.
There is a seven-day public comment period on the plan before it is submitted to HUD for a review process that can take up to 45 days.