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Rally brings attention to Greenleaf

By Natasha Clark

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD On May 9, residents gathered in front of Greenleaf Community Center on Parker Street to rally for its reopening.

"It's pretty sad it closed down," Bryan Cerrone said. "There's nothing for the youth."

Cerrone is just one of many teens who hope the facility can be utilized to its full potential.

A year ago the center closed due to the deterioration of the building, mainly the collapse of the roof.

Last Monday residents holding signs like "Pray for Greenleaf," crowded the sidewalks in front of the building, and officials came to support their cause.

City Council members Dominic Sarno, Jose Tosado, and Bill Foley were on hand, as well as Mayor Charlie Ryan, Senator Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow), State Representative Sean Curran (D-Springfield), Director of the Springfield Park Department Patrick Sullivan, and Jorge Castellano of the Department of Elder Affairs.

Even representatives from local neighborhood fixtures like Church in the Acres and Western New England College were present.

"As of 5 p.m. [today], I was assured of the first $200,000 to fix the roof," Ryan told the crowd.

Sixteen Acres Civic Association President Clodo Concepcion asked the crowd to still hold local legislator's "feet to the fire," adding that he was sick of listening to rhetoric and promises.

"I know how important this is because of the gentleman on my right," Lees said, pointing to Concepcion. "His continued phone calls about this area. He's in there all of the time fighting for you. We hear from him constantly. This [project] is one of my number one priorities."

Lees also said that too often neighborhoods are forgotten at the expense of things happening downtown.

When Reminder Publications spoke with Darlotte Gay, staff director for the office of State Representative Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham), she said that Candaras, along with other local officials, were making strides in trying to revitalize Greenleaf.

"[Candaras] requested the $1 million earmarked for 2002 be placed on the FY06 capital improvement list for the city park department for the purpose of rehabilitating [Greenleaf]," Gay explained.

The city was earmarked for no less than $1 million for renovation of Greenleaf Park in the 2002 Open Space Bond Bill, Chapter 236, according to a letter Sullivan wrote to Representative Candaras in 2004.

In January, $200,000 was secured in state funds in a supplemental budget for Greenleaf. Officials hope to use those funds within the next few months.

"Hang on tight," urged Curran. "We're going to get this thing built."

Greenleaf is the fourth largest park in the city of Springfield.