New Beginnings

Tomorrow’s groundbreaking ceremony at the new state data center at 53 Elliot Street will be dripping with political big wigs, among them Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Rep. Richie Neal and Mayor Domenic Sarno—“and others,” according to the press release sent out by the governor’s office.

Will those “others” include state Rep. Tommy Petrolati? It’s hard to imagine, given that tomorrow’s festivities mark his failure to strong arm officials into putting the center at the technology park at Springfield Technical Community College.

Petrolati had pushed that plan despite almost-universal support among Springfield leaders to locate the center at the old Tech High School building on Elliot Street, which has been a vacant eyesore since its closure in 1986. (Mark Alamed offers a great history of the building and its architecture at his Exploring Western Massachusetts blog.) Neal and others were anxious to see Tech’s reuse, particularly given the millions of public dollars spent on a larger neighborhood revitalization effort, the centerpiece of which is the new federal building on State Street. Petrolati, meanwhile, tried to force the center into the STCC site, which was created by the state Legislature as a business incubator and which has struggled financially.

The release from Patrick’s office describes the new $110 million center as “a national model for green technology, in keeping with the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to making Massachusetts a leader in clean and renewable energy.”

The ceremonial shovels will start flying on Tuesday, June 22, at 2 p.m.

A few hours earlier, Neal, Sarno and Attorney General Martha Coakley will attend another groundbreaking, this one at 83 Warwick St., site of the forthcoming, new-and-improved ReStore Home Improvement Center.

The non-profit ReStore (which is owned by the Center for Ecological Technology) sells used and surplus building supplies and materials, donated by homeowners, contractors and manufacturers. Shoppers get great bargains (claw foot tubs for as little as $200, bathroom sinks for $20-25, brass fireplace screens for $10-30), while keeping the materials from languishing in already overcrowded landfills.

The new store will not be far from ReStore’s current site, at 250 Albany St. But it will be four times larger than the Albany Street site, and “will feature lots of parking, wide aisles and modern material handling equipment that will help the ReStore better serve the public and be a model for the building materials reuse industry,” according to an announcement from the organization. “A demonstration deep energy retrofit of the building will reduce energy use by more than 50% and be a high-profile model for transforming energy performance in existing commercial buildings, as well as a demonstration center for residents to learn about greening their own homes.”

ReStore’s groundbreaking ceremony kicks off at 9:30 a.m.

Author: On Springfield

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