SPRINGFIELD – Clodo Concepcion wants to finish what he’s started.
The Ward 5 City Councilor explained that at 83 years old, he is running for a fourth term because many projects in his ward remain works in progress and he wants to ensure they are done and done right.
“There are a lot of things I’ve done and that I’m doing around here. I don’t need to do this,” he said, pounding his chest, “but this city was a dump in 2001 and I have worked with the city and the people in Boston to do what I can to make it better.”
Concepcion spoke with Reminder Publications in his office at the community center that bears his name and pointed to the $850,000 renovation of that building, which had been closed in 2004 due to its condition, as a symbol of the work he’s been able to do.
“I worked with [Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management] Pat Sullivan and got money from Boston for this senior center,” he said. “I spent seven years working on that and here we are. It’s one of the best centers in the city; people come from all over the city to come here.”
More recently in Sixteen Acres, Concepcion pointed to the nearly $1 million renovation of Camp Wilder as a recent success he helped fight for and added he is still pursuing a signal and improved lighting for the entrance to the Sixteen Acres Branch Library and the community center in an effort to improve safety for motorists entering and exiting Parker Street.
He also pointed to improvements to the business climate in Sixteen Acres Center and said he is willing to help local businesses gain the licensing they need, citing Ginger Blossom, Wings Over Springfield, and Pride as businesses he has worked with. He also pointed to the construction of an improved United Bank as a positive step for the area.
Criticized by his opponent, Marcus Williams, for perceived inactivity in Pine Point, which is also in his ward, Concepcion said he has worked with the city and the Pine Point Community Council to put the improvements to Balliet Park in motion.
“In 2009, that park was a dump, but by the end of the year, it should be brand new,” he said. “I didn’t get things done all by myself, but I worked with the people I needed to do get it done.”
This year, a spray park was opened on the site, representing the first portion of the project. The second phase, which will include improvements to the baseball field, basketball and tennis courts as well as picnic areas, began earlier this month with groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 22.
Concepcion also said he has fought to reestablish a full-service library in Pine Point in the place of the Library Express, which is open three days a week and not at all on the weekends.
While the Sixteen Acres Community Center is thriving, the Pine Point Community Center, which hosts that neighborhood’s senior center, was recently sold. Concepcion said, however, the senior center is still operational at that site through a rental agreement and also touted the proposed community senior center at Blunt Park as a project with which he has been involved that would offer more options to area residents.
The seniors, Concepcion said, are the people he is focused on protecting.
“I’m here to help the seniors. The seniors are being forgotten about in this country,” he said.
He also said it was imperative for the community to work with police to curb recent violence that has been prevalent in the city.
“Drugs created problems and the gangs fight over that,” he said. “I remember when you could walk all over this city at night, but now, unless things change, I feel sorry for the young people. We can do more together, working together.”
Concepcion said he doesn’t necessarily condone gambling, but voted in favor of the MGM Springfield casino project.
“I voted for it because if it works right, we will get jobs and taxes,” he said.
Concepcion also touted his status as a Hispanic man and the only immigrant on the City Council as a benefit to citizens.
“I speak the language and I understand what it means to come to this country. When I came to this country, I didn’t know anybody,” he said. “People come to see me not only from Sixteen Acres. They come from all over.”
More than anything, Concepcion said he has proven to be an man of his word.
“What you see is what you get,” he said. “I don’t change my colors like a chameleon.”