Springfield mayor requesting millions to fix Gerena School tunnel

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno has urged the state to allocate millions of dollars to correct a chronic problem at the Gerena Community School in the North End.

Sarno told 22News, “It’s about three million dollars to correct the Bernie Avenue bridge where the water is leaking into the school.”

Leakage that’s caused the unsightly conditions along the tunnel connecting the school with North Main Street a quarter of a mile away.

Springfield city councilor Adam Gomez told 22News, “We’re the poorest neighborhood in Massachusetts, down here in the North End. And what kind of message are we sending, if the state doesn’t really look at – look behind me, look at these walls.”

Jose Medina, whose child attends the Gerena School, said, “Sometimes when it’s raining out there, this thing gets watered down, they’ve gotta be going through the water, and it’s not safe.”

Mayor Sarno called all Gerena school parents together for a June 1st meeting to talk about safety and other issues regarding the troubling school corridor. The Environmental Protection Agency has been invited to meet with the community at the meeting at the Gerena cafeteria, at 6:00 p.m., to listen to their presentation and answer any questions.

Mayor Sarno stated:

We want the residents to understand that the City of Springfield has taken every precaution to provide a learning environment that is both safe and protective of the children and staff at Gerena School and throughout the school district. We are at a point that sufficient funds have been invested to keep this building current however we need to say vigilant to ensure the state funds are released for the Bernie Ave repairs. We also need to acquire funds through the MSBA to update all HVAC and EMS systems for this complex. It is equally important to have the proper information and this is why I have invited the EPA to present at the school. This is their scientific study, posted on their web site, requiring their response.

Executive Director of PBRM Patrick Sullivan stated:

We are proud of the work completed to date at Gerena School and we look forward to completing the work identified over the next three years. This summer bids will be received for the tunnel floor and we will work cooperatively with State Officials and the Governor’s Office to find a way to release the state funds to stop the water penetrations from Bernie Ave. We have submitted to the MSBA and are hopeful we will be successful with this request for HVAC / mechanical upgrades.

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