Friday, September 23, 2016
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Park Commission Chairman Brian Santaniello, Director of Capital Asset Peter Garvey, Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Patrick Sullivan, SECC Chairman Thaddeus Tokarz and SECC Executive Director Chae Swan hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the South End Community Center earlier today at Emerson Wight Park.
The new South End Community Center will be located within Emerson Wight Park in Springfield and will replace the original building destroyed by the 2011 tornado. The new building will be approximately 29,000 square feet. The first floor will include a large gymnasium, administrative offices, indoor basketball courts, a lounge, concessions area and a multipurpose room for boxing, wrestling and dance functions. The second floor will house an exercise center and three general classrooms. The facility will also include an exterior basketball court and has been designed to share the Emerson Wight Park fields and playgrounds. The construction project is estimated to cost $10.3 million.
“I am thrilled to begin this project. My city team, along with the SECC Board, has developed a first class community center for our youth. It is very important to engage our youth at a young age to have an understanding of the importance of being part of their community and participating in positive programming,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “This project represents five years of hard negotiations with our federal government to ensure everyone affected by the tornado has been made whole.”
“Today’s groundbreaking represents another tangible development in our city’s rebuilding process from the damage that was done by the 2011 tornado. Who can forget that day five years ago when a funnel cloud touched down in the South End destroying large sections of this historic neighborhood? But working closely with Mayor Sarno and with the support of the people of Springfield we fought hard for the federal disaster assistance funds that continue to help make our recovery possible. And the groundbreaking of the new South End Community Center is another example of that. When completed, this $10 million facility will be a great asset to the local community,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
“It has been a positive process in ensuring the funding for this project. I want to thank the FEMA regional office for their support and listening to our request and finally approving the funding required to rebuild this center,” said Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Timothy J. Plante.
“This project will revitalize Emerson Wight Park with positive programming. We are excited to welcome the SECC and look forward to collaborating on positive year round programs,” said Executive Director of PBRM Patrick Sullivan. “This center will create a new chapter for not only the South end Neighborhood but for all the families that enter through this new facility.”
Park Commission Chairman Brian Santaniello said, “The Park Commission is proud to be part of the continuation of the SECC. All of us need to participate in providing our youth the opportunity to be in a safe environment. This facility will once again be the heart and soul of the South End.”
“This facility will provide optimum programming opportunities. The state of the art gym and classrooms will be an asset to this neighborhood and the Springfield Community. We are very pleased to be working with Fontaine Brothers on this project,” added Director of Capital Asset Peter Garvey.
“We at the South End Community Center are elated that this process has begun. It’s been five years and we are eager to get back to full capacity. Thanks to Mayor Sarno and City Officials for working closely with the SECC Board to make this happen,” said SECC Executive Director Chae Swan. “As the only all-inclusive public agency in the South End, SECC services are invaluable to families in the community, and the growth and development of our children.”