Best businesses on Boston Road?

The Boston Road Business Association (membership: $75 annually) which links businesses both in Springfield and Wilbraham, with benefits, is inviting the public to nominate the best businesses along Boston Road, in a number of categories. Winners will be lauded at the association’s third annual awards dinner and silent auction on Thursday, November 9, 6:00 pm at the Wilbraham Country Club. (The event is a fundraiser for the...

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Sprawl and crime: let's all move to the city

An article in yesterday’s New Haven Independent, by Melissa Bailey, chronicles a "confab" yesterday monring at the New Haven Chamber of Commerce about regionalism and "smart growth," joining state-office candidates in a forum hosted by the non-profit 1,000 Friends of Connecticut. From the article: [Heidi Green, 1,000 Friends President] gave a powerpoint on [the non-profit’s] goals: Less reliance on the...

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Still searching for quality renters

On MassLive.com’s Springfield discussion forum, poster "NoPol" initiated a thread (27818) positing that the city ought to "institute a serious crackdown on illegal apartment conversions," and enabling "legitimate renters to get a fair market rate on their properties." From his post: Let’s say you own a two-family house. You look for tenants for a fair rent—say, $700. If you rent both...

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Two valleys

The latest CommonWealth magazine includes an article, "A tale of two Valleys," by Amherst-based writer Melissa DaPonte Katz. From the article: Not surprisingly, many of the area’s cultural and recreational offerings are concentrated in the Upper Valley. When Hampden County residents want to see an East African drum ensemble or enjoy an artfully prepared meal, they get on I-91 and drive north. The traffic rarely goes...

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Visitors

One recent evening, around dinner time, I was putting away warm-weather clothes for storage, taking note of how dark it had gotten outside at an early hour. I head a jiggling of the doorknob at the front door, and assumed it was my husband coming home from his job. I went downstairs to greet him, carrying with me a large bag of giveaway clothing my kids had outgrown, and to my surprise, through the front door glass I saw a stranger...

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Six downtown restaurants team up

Trying to turn over a new leaf—we’re not just about strip clubs, you know—the new Springfield downtown dining district consists of six restaurants so far. The one-page Web site for the district, which is mainly a gateway to the six restaurants’ Web pages, plugs Cobalt club and restaurant on Worthington Street, Cafe Lebanon, L’uVA cocktail bar and restaurant, Sonoma wine bar and grill, and Sitar restaurant...

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Next step post-ULI: get the city on the same page

Springfield City Hall will soon be receiving, as early as yesterday afternoon, a DVD of videotaped footage of last month’s Urban Land Institute panel presentation, including both the formal portion as well as the Q&A that followed. The DVD was being copied and delivered courtesy of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Proceedings of the September 29 event were videotaped by local station WGBY. I have been wondering how...

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Urban Compass online store celebrates 31 Elm

Celebrate the Springfield mayor’s recent announcement about Main Street upgrades—"landscaping, street furniture, lighting and resurfacing pavement and sidewalks along Main Street from Lyman to Union streets," as well as $1.3 million set aside for improvements at 31 Elm Street (PDF), pictured at left—by gearing up with some swag from the newly-opened Urban Compass online store. The store includes a series of...

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Friction is part of the job?not just a news hook

The Republican‘s Mike Plaisance published an article today highlighting how Springfield City Council member Kateri Walsh is going to cause heads to roll when (and if) she becomes president of the council, as she anticipates. The council president—currently Jose Tosdao—by default serves as a member of the Finance Control Board. (The mayor is the other default member; three others are state-level appointees.) The piece...

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City fortresses itself in red tape: this trash fee is a complete mess

Receiving my trash fee bill in the mail yesterday was an exciting moment. I cheerfully opened the envelope to discover what awaited, prepared to do my civic duty and just pay the damn thing, tax or no tax, legal or not, properly budgeted or not. To my dismay, however, the bill I got lists my household as owning two trash containers, but we only have one. The containers are billed at an annual fee of $90. This means that the city says...

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Central library to host used book sale, open house tomorrow

The Springfield central library branch, with the co-sponsorship of Friends of the Springfield Library, is hosting an all-day used book sale tomorrow, Saturday November 4, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, with refreshments. (Food is always a draw, is it not?) The event includes an afternoon open house, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, with live music and two types of tours. The "introductory library" tours will leave from the rotunda at 1:15 pm...

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Mass pike toll-free glee: hold your horses

The Boston Globe‘s Mac Daniel reports today that the state-appointed, 13-member Transportation Finance Commission "urged the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and [Governor Mitt] Romney administration to slow plans to abolish tolls on the turnpike west of Route 128." More from the article: [Chairman Stephen J.] Silveira said the commission views the issue as important enough to warrant a statement prior to the release...

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A tree falls in Springfield; does it make a sound?

WFCR‘s Field Notes host/producer Laurie Sanders aired a report this morning about a visit with Springfield’s chief forester, Ed Casey, to discuss the status of the city’s trees. From the piece: Two years ago, Springfield became the first community in Massachusetts to use GPS units, Palm Pilots, and new software to create a computer database of all its street trees. Every one of the city’s 31,000-plus street...

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Anytown, USA tonight at central library

If you happen to be looking for a "nail-biting drama" tonight, consider dropping by the Springfield central library branch at 6:00 pm for an election-eve showing of the award-winning 2005 documentary, Anytown, USA. The film chronicles a tight mayoral race in Bogota, New Jersey, where two out of three of the candidates are legally blind. It’s billed as a comedy. Look for it downstairs in the community...

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Consider a downtown loft

This just in, from a resident of Springfield’s six-story McIntosh building, at the corner of Worthington and Chestnut Streets downtown: There are five units in my building going out for bid in a couple weeks. The minimum bid is around $50,000 (I paid way more), but the main consideration will be quality of the proposals—we want responsible owners who want to live here and contribute to the revitalization of Downtown. These...

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Sign violation down at last; what store now?

A while after I had stopped grumbling to myself about it, walking by it every day while taking my kids to school, the signage that folks constructed last spring on the storefront at 196-206 Dickinson Street in Forest Park finally came down yesterday. I documented the sad tale of this too-tall skeletal structure early last June (scroll way down on the link). Let’s be honest, the storefront itself is no pristine beauty. It’s...

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Election day: no donuts for you

The Boston Globe predicted yesterday that election day turnout across Massachusetts would break records for any gubernatorial race in history. Today, the Globe offers up a Flash-based interactive map showing how precincts across the state voted for governor. Closer to home, MassLive.com has available the results from all the various races in yesterday’s election, broken down by precinct, for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden,...

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Continuing Conversation

Longmeadow filmmaker Scott Kittredge‘s most recent short film, Terminal Conversation, which was shot on location in Springfield’s former Basketball Hall of Fame, is being screened at the Northamption Independent Film Festival, which opens today and runs through November 12. Kittredge was recently interviewed for an article at newenglandfilm.com, in anticipation of the film’s October 8 screening at the New England...

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Smart City Radio just got smarter

The urban planning, design and development Web site Planetizen announced this week that it is partnering with Smart City Radio to produce a monthly audio segment offering up "summary and analysis of the most interesting and intriguing planning-related stories featured on Planetizen." This effectively gets the site’s podcasts on public radio stations nationwide. Smart City host Carol Coletta—also CEO of CEOs for...

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Decisions, decisions

Election day yielded some ripple effects for leadership in Massachusetts cities—for example, the pending decision of Worcester Mayor Tim Murray, lieutenant governor-elect, on whether or not to remain in local office; and the decision of Springfield City Councilor Angelo Puppolo, State Representative-elect for the 12th Hampden District, to step down from his local position as of January 3. In Puppolo’s place will likely be...

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Sustainable patterns of growth

To help Deval Patrick adjust to the governorship, the Massachusetts chapter of the American Planning Association, together with three other agencies, sent him (as well as the other three candidates, prior to the election) a brief October white paper (PDF) called, "Six Key Recommendations to our Next Governor to Achieve Sustainable Growth in the Commonwealth." The four authors would like to see "fewer editorials about...

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Rogue Journal expands

Springfield’s Bill Dusty, who maintains the New England Rogue Journal, expanded yesterday to host a brand new, regional blogger-welcoming forum. Dusty also posted yesterday the first part of a series, "A Springfield Story." From the piece: [B]ecause so few modern cities do perish, it is unlikely that Springfield should be one of those few. But much needs to be done to stave off disaster: Politicians must be held...

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Springfield's aggressive marketing efforts

Freshly re-elected to office after an uncontested race, Springfield-based Congressman Richard Neal made some rounds in the media recently. He appeared on WGBY‘s "The State We’re In" with host Jim Madigan, just prior to election day, to discuss national and state politics. And he also wrote a piece for the October 30 issue of Business West, "Don’t Give Up on Union Station." From that article: I am...

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Hunkering down in the presence of diversity

Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, completed some research on ethnic diversity not long ago. Apparently, he found that after data had been adjusted for income and other factors, high degrees of ethnic diversity also indicate high levels of distrust in a community. Putnam told the Financial Times that in diverse communities, people "don’t trust...

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Get your free Falcons tickets here

Westfield Bank’s Tower Square branch at 1500 Main Street is giving away free vouchers for tickets to tomorrow night’s Springfield Falcons game against the Hershey Bears. Apparently a block of 500 tickets was set aside, in honor of the recent renaming of East Court Street to Falcons Way. The Falcons’ Web site originally stated that the vouchers are for Springfield residents. Today’s Republican news update...

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Fire station gaffe

An article in today’s Republican reports that the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management has submitted to city officials a capital improvements plan for firehouse and library upgrades. Promising news, but rather perplexing as well for those of us invested in what happens to the city’s fire stations. From the article: [Parks and Rec director Patrick] Sullivan said his department included the...

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Intersection safety

State representatives Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and Sean Curran recently took a look at the intersection of Parker Street and Wilbraham Road, along with members of the Sixteen Acres Civic Association, according to today’s Republican article by Azell Murphy Cavaan. Coakley-Rivera’s claim is that the intersection is dangerous; Curran wants an accident report; Pride president Robert Bolduc says there is no problem. It’s no...

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Springfield Mayor receives Leadership Award

At last night’s HAP, Inc. annual dinner at the Mass Mutual Center in downtown Springfield, Charles Rucks introduced one of the evening’s recipients of the organization’s Leadership Award, Springfield Mayor Charles Ryan. Rucks, who is Executive Director of HAP’s Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, is also a member of its board of directors, and the treasurer of the corporation. His introductory remarks:...

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The “Bing in the wings”

This week’s issue of Business West has an article by Springfield-based writer Jaclyn C. Stevenson focusing on the revitalization of theaters in western Massachusetts, including mention of Springfield’s Bing Theater. From the article: The Bing project is different in many ways from the Colonial [in Pittsfield] and Mahaiwe [in Great Barrington] projects; it is a less costly endeavor—Hale projects that the pricetag will...

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The neighborhood mix: trash and hope

Bill Dusty of The New England Rogue Journal posted yesterday part two of his three-part series, "A Springfield Story." This one focuses on neighborhoods, and includes a number of Dusty’s photos from a few different parts of the city. At the very beginning, in paragraph two, he takes a look at my own neighborhood. From the article: Witness the Forest Park neighborhood between the "X" business district and the...

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Saving our cities

WGBY’s "The State We’re In" aired a one-hour special last Friday titled "Saving Our Cities," hosted as always by Jim Madigan. The description, from the station: Saving Our Cities is the first in a series of special programs WGBY is producing in conjunction with the mayors of 11 western Massachusetts cities to focus on the problems facing our region’s urban centers and what can be done to address...

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Past and future

Over the weekend, Mark Alamed at Steel Sings Cold wrote a post about Springfield’s past; Matt S. at WMass Politics and Insight wrote a post about its future.

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Starbucks vandalized

Springfield’s first and only Starbucks shop, on East Columbus Avenue, was vandalized in recent days. The protruding drive-through window is gone, having been smashed, peeled off the wall, and now boarded up. Over the weekend, the cafe’s quaint little chalkboard signs—which usually announce what types of coffee roasts are available—proclaimed, "The drive-thru is closed due to VANDALISM." It’s a...

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