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Springfield to use $21.9 million in federal disaster relief money on South End Community Center, reconstruction of Boston Road and other projects

March 27, 2013
In The News

SPRINGFIELD - The city is in line to receive$21.9 million in disaster aid, money it plans to spend on the new South End Community Center, a senior citizens center in Blunt Park, to rebuild Boston Road and other projects.

The money is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 's Community Development Block Grant program, said City Development Officer Kevin E. Kennedy.

The federal government will also provide $7.2 million in HUD storm recovery money to other Massachusetts communities, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield.

Neal's office and the city made the joint announcement.

"For the past few months, I have repeatedly told senior officials at HUD that securing more assistance for disaster relief in Springfield was my top priority," Neal said in a prepared statement.

HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan said the $7.2 million has not been allocated, but it must go to communities hardest hit by storms in 2011. Those serial disasters include the tornado of June 1 and Tropical Storm Irene in August and the October 29 snowstorm.

Kennedy, a former Neal staffer, said Springfield also expects to get $20 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in recovery money related to the 2011 tornado. He expects a FEMA announcement in a few weeks.

"Oh, we're getting it," Kennedy said following a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "The question is how much."

The plan is to pool the disaster recovery funds and put the total of about $40 million toward capital projects. That could include $8 million to $10 million for the senior citizen center, $2.5 million for the renovation and expansion of the Clifford A. Phaneuf Environmental Center at Forest Park, $8.6 million for the reconstruction of the heavily traveled commercial stretch of Boston Road and $6 million to $8 million for a new South End Community Center.

The old South End Community Center was destroyed by the June 2011 tornado.

HUD's Sullivan said the money comes from $16 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant disaster aid included in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. HUD disaster relief money is meant to address housing, business and infrastructure needs beyond those covered by other forms of assistance.


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