|By Carley Dangona
Cross Street Playground as it appeared prior to the winter snowfall.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
WESTFIELD The property the city wants to buy to replace Cross Street Playground is not for sale.
According to a letter posted on the city website, owner Alice Wielgus said, "I own the property at 146-150 Main St. in Westfield that the city apparently now wants for a playground. I am writing to formally object to the city's effort to seize my property."
The playground is part of the Ashley Street School Project, a 600-student elementary school the city plans to open in September of 2014. At the groundbreaking on Sept. 7, 2012, the playground was already cleared for construction of the school, despite opposition from residents.
On Sept. 18, 2012, Superior Court Judge Tina Page issued a preliminary injunction thwarting the city from construction or demolition of any land under Article 97, Cross Street Playground, without first designating a surrogate site. In October 2012, Page upheld the injunction after the city requested its reconsideration.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) of the playground was completed and filed in March.
In the EA the city cited the Wielgus Property as the replacement site for the playground.
The public comment period for the EA ran from March 26 to April 26. Principal Planner Jay Vinskey submitted the public comments and city's responses to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on May 2.
Wielgus wrote, "This property has been owned by my family for almost seventy years and has been farmed every year. In addition, the city plan would adversely affect the value of the remaining portion of my property."
She added, "No one from the city has contacted me on a price for my land."
In the EA Vinskey described two alternatives. Alternative A would result in no action and Alternative B would replace the portion of the playground utilized in the Ashley Street School Project with the Wielgus property.
This site is defined in the EA as the "Wielgus Property, a 46.3-acre parcel located about a quarter-mile northeast of the Cross Street Playground, on the opposite side of Main Street. It also borders residential neighborhoods and abuts the Westfield River."
The EA stated, "The use of a portion of the Cross Street site is necessary for the school project. Without the conversion, the project as proposed cannot proceed, so no other alternatives relative to the Cross Street Playground were considered for this Environmental Assessment."
When contacted, Wielgus declined to comment.
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