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U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to pursue funds to renovate historic Springfield Elliot Street duplex

June 22, 2010
In The News
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to pursue funds to renovate historic Springfield Elliot Street duplex

By: Natalie Tolomeo, CBS 3 News
Story Published: June 22, 2010

(SPRINGFIELD) U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, has pledged to pursue funds to help renovate and save a fire-damaged historic duplex on Elliot Street, saying the building is too important to be lost to demolition.

Neal, in a letter last week, said he will seek out local, state and federal funding in the effort to save the building at 25-27 Elliot St., vacant and boarded since a fire in January of 2008, and located between the federal courthouse on State Street and the historic Alexander House on Elliot Street.

Neal said he has been in contact with two nonprofit historic preservation groups - Preservation Massachusetts and National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington D.C. - to discuss the fate of the duplex, and any assistance they can provide.

“While the fate of the Elliot Street site is uncertain, it is my belief that it must be protected, preserved and restored,” Neal said. “Please be assured that I will continue my advocacy on behalf of the Elliot Street home.”

Neal’s letter was issued to Heriberto Flores, executive director of the New England Farm Workers Council, which has control over the duplex property as the court-appointed receiver. The letter was shared with Housing Court Judge Robert G. Fields at a Thursday review, who is considering the city’s dispute with the property owner, Angela M. Dennis of Springfield, regarding if the house can be saved or is beyond repair.
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Neal said with major renovations along the State Street corridor, the house stands as one remaining challenge in the transformation of the Armory-Quadrangle area.

Dennis has stated that it is not economically feasible for her to renovate the site due to extensive damage, and she has sought to regain control of the site. Her application to demolish the duplex, built in 1872, was denied by the Springfield Historical Commission.

“It has taken over my entire life,” Dennis said during Thursday’s review.

The city’s lawyers have objected to demolition.

Fields continued the case for six weeks, to Sept. 23, at which time he will seek information about any progress in securing funds for renovations.

Recent conditions at the property, including high grass and a tattered tarp on the roof, drew neighborhood concerns. The Farm Workers Council recently mowed the lawn and will secure the roof, a council lawyer said.

Fields said he has continued his order to have a receiver keep control of the property because Dennis has not yet shown she is able to take care of, secure, and rehabilitate or market the site appropriately.

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