Springfield College, Urban League, City, To Create Master PlanFebruary 11, 2003
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Feb. 11, 2003A partnership among Springfield College, the Urban League of Springfield, the City of Springfield, and the New Leadership Charter School, in association with the Old Hill Neighborhood Council, today announced plans to develop a master plan to transform Old Hill and adjacent parts of the Upper Hill neighborhood into a model of educational resources, new and rehabilitated housing, and recreational space, and streetscapes.
The college, the City, and the Urban League will share the approximate $100,000 cost to create a master plan for redevelopment of the area titled the Wilbraham Avenue Educational and Redevelopment Corridor (WAERC). They have also applied for a $30,000 grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development to help defray costs of creating the master plan.
Speaking at the Old Hill Neighborhood Council, Springfield Mayor Michael J. Albano told a packed hall that "The combination of talent and commitment in this partnership has the ability to accomplish much more working together than any of us can do independently. At this time of tight resources and state budget-cutting, this public/private partnership is especially valuable." He singled out the redevelopment of housing and streetscapes, as well as quality of life issues, as critical components to neighborhood revitalization.
Albano committed the support of the city's Department of City Planning, under the direction of Linda Petrella, and the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Services, under the direction of Kathleen Lingenberg.
According to Glenn Davis, the Urban League of Springfield's senior vice president and director of economic development, the current scope of the WAERC project grew out of discussions among the partners on educational redevelopment.
Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn described plans to enhance the area's educational resources. "For Springfield College, which has been guided for more than a century by a mission of service to others, this project holds potential to utilize the expertise and services of our faculty, staff and students to improve life in our community." He said that WAERC would enable the college to expand its current community involvement. Among the possibilities that he cited are the development of educational and recreational facilities in the neighborhood surrounding the campus for use by the college and the community.
Flynn also envisions expansion of the college's mentoring, student teaching and recreational programs for students in neighborhood schools, and service projects with community organizations and city agencies.
Superintendent of the Springfield Public Schools Joseph Burke lauded the redevelopment effort for its potential to expand educational and recreational facilities, to introduce creative programming and to tap the teaching and mentoring expertise at the college for the public schools.
Henry Thomas, president of the Urban League of Springfield, said that the partnership has hired Tai Soo Kim, the award-winning architectural firm based in Hartford, Connecticut, to develop architectural guidelines and the preliminary plans for neighborhood development. The partners also plan to contract with The Cecil Group, the Boston-based architectural firm that is noted for planning and urban design, to assess land use, streetscapes, open space, and circulation patterns. Thomas said that those reports should be completed by this summer.
"A master plan will serve as a blueprint for redevelopment activities over the next two to 15 years, not only by the four members of our partnership, but also by local residents, property owners, businesses, and any others with an interest in making this neighborhood a model place in which to learn, work, and live," Thomas said.
Organizations that are already involved in community development and have expressed support for WAERC are Habitat for Humanity of Greater Springfield; Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services; HAP, Inc.; and the Pioneer Valley Project.
Omega Johnson, president of the Old Hill Neighborhood Council, pointed out that "Old Hill and Upper Hill are the sites of some of the most deteriorated property in the city. These neighborhoods are also the home of residents who are eager to work with partners in higher education, government and community development to improve the quality of life in these neighborhoods, which we love. I am optimistic over the vision of this partnership for the future of our shared neighborhoods."
The master planning process will include two or three visioning workshops. Persons interested in participating may contact Dale Lucy-Allen, Springfield College director of community relations, at 748-3818.