City says no Acorn Park cleanup, cites no permit and COVID-19 concerns


Acorn Street Park tennis court, Springfield, MA. Photo courtesy Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is responding to Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst’s claim that the city has neglected the Acorn Street Park tennis courts.

Two weeks ago, Hurst called on Sarno to arrange for cleaning and securing the tennis courts, calling them an eyesore and an attraction for crime and illegal dumping. He also expressed concern about liability to the city should anyone be injured while on the property. He cited the care taken to other tennis courts in the city parks at Van Horn Park, Forest Park, and Nathan Bills Park. He said over 200 people from the Ward 4 district, where the park is located, signed a petition to have the tennis courts repaired.

On Thursday, Hurst announced that he and Ward 6 City Councilor Victor Davila and Ward 4 community activists Devin Streeter and Jynai McDonald organized a Community Clean Up at the Acorn Street Park tennis courts for Saturday, April 17. He thanked the many businesses, community organizations and residents that had come forward to volunteer time, products and services to the clean up effort.

On Friday, Sarno sent a letter to Hurst outlining the reasons that the event should be cancelled. He took offense to Hurst’s allegations that the city is trying to prevent residents from cleaning up a city park. Sarno pointed out that the group had not followed the city’s permit process for this type of event, that Hurst had submitted the COVID-19 public health and safety plan on Friday, a day before the event. He denied that the city’s Department of Parks, Buildings, and Recreation Management, is charging $696.97 to hold the event and that Hurst refused to take back the check when a city employee returned it to him.

Sarno went on to say that the property had initially been cleaned up and that a master plan to revitalize the area was in place prior to COVID-19.

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