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A hot property? You could say that

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

It was a cute little house the kind of home you could imagine as a "starter" home for a young couple or a place where an empty nester could go to downsize. Now, I'm afraid it's just going to be another abandoned property.

There have been two fires recently in our area one on I-91 when a tanker carrying a full load of diesel fuel had an accident and burst into flames. It shut down the highway in both directions for hours and there was a death. Another tore through a retail complex shutting down five or six businesses. Both were devastating events.

So what happened on my street, two doors down, was small potatoes. It is the kind of thing that consistently plagues us who live in urban areas such as Springfield. A house is abandoned and kids, the homeless or drug dealers see an opportunity for a playground, a shelter or a business location and before you know it there seems to be a fire.

I called Tom Walsh, the constituent service aide in Mayor Domenic Sarno's office, and he explained the legal moves the city must take so it can secure the building.

On Thursday morning, the crews came not only to clean up the house and yard, but to secure it. As a taxpayer I truly appreciated the quick response to my inquiry.

Thanks, Tom. It's great when you see your taxes are being correctly used.

I couldn't help but wonder just why people had allowed the situation to take place.

My fear is the house, even when it is secured, will stand there to rot until the city is forced to take it for back taxes and then it will be added to the lots of properties the city will try to sell at auction.

My wife and I looked through the broken windows and saw walls covered with graffiti. It has been someone's clubhouse for a while.

It didn't have to burn.

If the owner had secured the building after the last tenant, perhaps this could have been avoided, but he didn't.

The owner, according to city records, is one Thomas Morrell who resides at 15701 Leather Leaf Lane in Land O Lakes, Fla. I couldn't find a phone number online for him or I would have called him. I'll keep trying. He should know what he has done to this neighborhood.

My neighbor had called the police when he saw kids entering the building. The police would come, tell the kids to go and that was that. I'm not blaming the police, but did these concerns get transferred to city departments that might do something? Is there a procedure in place to transfer that kind of information to the proper city department? Does the city have the resources to address these kinds of issues? Is it unrealistic to assume the city has the means to monitor houses that are abandoned by owners?

I don't know the answers, but I do know this house didn't have to burn.


Here are my last words on the casino vote (until the next time casinos rear their heads). A former state representative took the time recently to explain to me that House Speaker Sal DiMasi could have brought the bill to the floor for a vote that would have allowed the representatives to address their concerns about Gov. Patrick's bill through amendments.

So someone could have altered the legislation to include such items as keeping a definition of Western Massachusetts as the four western counties and not include Worcester.

Why wasn't that route taken? I'm afraid we all know that answer.


Hey, isn't it ironic that developers want to tear down the former Westinghouse factory complex on Page Boulevard in Springfield -- a place where for generations people made decent wages manufacturing consumer items -- and build a shopping area featuring minimum wage jobs and consumer goods made in China?

What kind of trade-off is that?

And now for more good news: "The Wrights Factory Outlet store located at 559 Main St. in Sturbridge will be closing in the coming months. The store, an adjunct of the Wm. Wright Co. located at 85 South St. in West Warren, has been a cornerstone of the Sturbridge Marketplace, Rte. 20, for the last 16 years. A favorite stop for leaf peepers and Brimfield Antiques Market People, the store is well known for its selection of ribbons, trims, quilting fabrics and more. Currently occupying 10,000 square feet of retail space at the Sturbridge Marketplace, the store has in recent years seen a downtrend in sales.

"The corporate headquarters, factory and distribution center, which was based in West Warren, began a transition to its new facility just outside Nashville, Tenn., in 2006 beginning with the distribution center move. Many of the manufacturing jobs had already been eliminated with goods being sourced off shore but by the middle of 2007 all manufacturing jobs had been eliminated as the final transition into a strictly sourcing, design and marketing company was completed. Since goods are no longer manufactured here, the need for the outlet store has diminished.

"No final store closing date has been announced."

Can someone tell me in concrete terms what the hell is being done to keep the jobs we now have here?

Boy, I wish I could still have a drink.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.