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Concepcion honored for work, devotion to Sixteen Acres

Date: 9/12/2013

By Chris Maza

SPRINGFIELD – The “house that Clodo built” now bears his name.

Ward 5 City Councilor Clodo Concepcion was honored on Sept. 5 for his extensive work for the people of the Sixteen Acres section of the city as well as the Greenleaf Community Center at a ceremony during which the name of that building was formally changed to the Clodo Concepcion Community Center.

Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Patrick Sullivan, Park Commission Chairman Brian Santaniello, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo Jr., state Sen. James Welch, School Committee member Antonette Pepe and several city councilors joined Mayor Domenic Sarno at the event at which heaps of praise were cast in Concepcion’s direction.

Sarno called it “a very, very special day not only for Sixteen Acres, but for me personally.”

“Clodo is a dear friend of mine and he’s worked so hard for Sixteen Acres and the city of Springfield even before he was an elected official,” he said. “In the rebuilding of the Greenleaf Community Center his gentleman was tireless for seven years. Every week he would have myself or another elected official down here, whether it was federal, state or local. He was relentless.”

Sarno went on to talk about his experiences playing basketball at the old community center when condensation would drip down the walls and the slick tile floor made players prone to slips and falls.

The movement to rename the community center was originated by residents of the neighborhood, who sent letters and petitions to City Hall in what Sullivan called a “heartwarming” gesture.

A common theme among the speeches given was praise for Concepcion’s passion.

City Councilor Bud William said of Concepcion that his focus has never been inward, but always toward what was best for the community, saying he “bleeds for Sixteen Acres.”

“There’s an old saying we have in the Baptist church: May the work I do speak for me, may the life I live speak for me,” he said. “I’ve seen the transformation of Sixteen Acres. Sixteen Acres has always been a beautiful community, but when you look at the Pride station, you look at CVS, you look at the banks, and Western New England [University], he had a big part in those because long before he was on the City Council, he was a tireless advocate for Sixteen Acres.”

Santaniello credited Concepcion with always sticking to his principals and seeing any endeavor through to the end.

“When he gives you his word, it’s his bond,” Santaniello said. “No one is more tenacious when it comes to the issues affecting Sixteen Acres and the city of Springfield.”

Welch joked that because Concepcion was so active in the neighborhood and in the city and had such a big part in the development of the community center, he thought the building already had his name on it. He added that Concepcion was a “tremendous citizen of the city.”

When taking the podium hand-in-hand with his wife to a standing ovation, he doffed his hat to the crowd, and then spoke passionately about his experiences coming to the country from Cuba, serving in the military, and becoming president of the Sixteen Acres Civic Association and a member of the City Council.

His message was a simple one: “It’s good to get, but you’ve got to give, too.”

Sarno also took the opportunity to voice his support for Concepcion in his campaign for re-election against challenger Kyle Burns.

He said it was shocking that anyone would want to run against Concepcion and urging voters to go to the polls in November.