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Four years after 2011 tornado city shows progress with recovery

Date: 6/5/2015

SPRINGFIELD – Kristine Foye, acting regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was impressed with the progress the city has made in recovering from the June 1, 2011 tornado.

Stopping at one of the new single family homes built on Central Street in the Maple High Six Corners neighborhood since the tornado, Foye told Reminder Publications, “I think what the city has done is absolutely incredible.”

Mayor Domenic Sarno hosted the tour, which featured much of the city that had been affected by the tornado. Prior to arriving at 316 Central St., the mayor, and Congressman Richard Neal showed Foye businesses in the South End that had been affected and the site of the MGM Springfield casino. They stopped at Emerson Wight Park and saw the renovations made in the apartment buildings in the Hollywood section of the South End.

After the stop at the home, the group went on to see the new Elias Brookings School and the proposed Central Street realignment, the Hill Homes Cooperative next to Springfield College that was partly destroyed and then neighborhoods in East Forest Park that had been damaged by the storm.

Foye met with Alberto Ayala, the developer of the four new homes. The homes are being assessed in the range of $180,000 and the one on the tour features three bedroom, two bathrooms on the second floor and a half bath on the first floor, garage and a deep backyard.

Three more single-family homes are being built further down Central Street as well.

Foye, who had seen the impact of the tornado, said, “I couldn’t believe the devastation. It doesn’t look like the same area.”

Sarno said further developments in the Maple High neighborhood include the redevelopment of the former Brookings School and a second Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released later this year. Sarno explained he wanted greater competition among potential developers than the first RFP generated.

The city will also continue looking at project to change the course of Central Street so instead of emptying traffic into the intersection of Rifle Street would instead curve into Hickory Street to intersect with Allen Street.