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Data Center groundbreaking draws Tech Alumni

Date: 6/28/2010

June 28, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- The dozens of Technical High School alumni and staff among the approximately 100 people gathered at the groundbreaking of the state's Springfield Data Center (SDC) turned the event into a reunion for the high school that was closed in 1986.

Several spoke of the rich educational legacy of the high school and its generations of graduates. Wearing black and orange baseball hats distributed at the event, the audience even sang the Tech cheer song.

For Congressman Richard Neal, the decision to convert the long dormant property into what was touted as a national model for green technology was more than a political victory over State Rep. Thomas Petrolati and others who advocated placing the SDC on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College. Neal said the $110 million project would complete the neighborhood near the Quadrangle and St. Michael's Cathedral.

Although nearly all of the speakers acknowledged Neal's lobbying for the site, Neal stressed Gov. Deval Patrick's decision was "based on the merits of the project."

"My plea to Gov. Patrick was simple and succinct: complete this neighborhood," Neal told the audience.

Neal added that in 1986 when Classical and Technical High Schools were closed, he was the mayor. He was able to seek developers to transform Classical High School into a condominium complex, but was unsuccessful in finding a new use for technical High School.

The 148,000 square-foot building will be a secondary storage facility for the state's electronic records and data systems. Once completed the 183 current data centers will be merged into two locations.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the consolidation of the 183 centers was "important."

Saying there were many proposed locations for the center, Patrick said he believed the Tech site afforded the state "the most opportunity to do a green building so we'll have long term savings, takes the best advantage of the underground fiber network and also it contributes to the revitalization of the State Street Corridor."

Patrick said that at its peak there would be about 150 construction workers on the project and 50 or 60 permanent jobs created at the SDC.

"Every time an IT job is created there is a multiple of other jobs created in small businesses, [such as] coffee shops, restaurants and dry cleaners. And it's all good for the economy."

He said the project should be completed in 2012 and added he expected to move the opening up by six months.

He called the SDC "the next in a series of investments we're trying to make or encourage through the private sector to help rebuild Springfield and a much more promising future."

The new building will be gathering and using rainwater, the governor said. Sunlight as well as the heat generated by the banks of computers themselves will be used to warm the building.

The original fa ade of the building on Eliot Street will be preserved with the words "The Technical High School" remaining intact. Somehow that seems appropriate in light of the comments made by Class of 1966 member Peter Gagliarducci, who said, "The orange and black stripes of a Tech tiger never fade away."