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Three projects culminate to revitalize neighborhoods

Aug. 8, 2014 | By Carley Dangona

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Three years have passed since a tornado wreaked havoc on the Merrick and Memorial neighborhoods. The majority of the damage is repaired, but efforts to reexamine the best way to redevelop and enhance underutilized areas are nearing completion.

Recently finalized were a study of the Merrick and Memorial neighborhoods that was completed in June and the establishment of the Memorial Corridor Overlay District that was approved by the Town Council in July. The remaining task is the creation of form-based zoning for the Merrick section of town.
Mayor Edward Sullivan said, “This has been a long time coming. I’m really looking forward to having this process completed.” He emphasized that a great deal of money, time and resources have gone into all three plans and that it is time they became “living, breathing, active” projects. He noted when comparing the three plans there didn’t seem to be any conflicting uses.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) completed its Merrick and Memorial Neighborhood Study in June. The final report is available at www.pvpc.org/projects/merrick-and-memorial-neighborhood-study. A grant funded the work.
The PVPC defined the goal of the project on its website: “The goal of this study is to improve the efficiency of the regional transportation system to provide efficient access for all transportation modes to services and employment while encouraging development that enhances the livability of the Merrick and Memorial neighborhoods in West Springfield.”
The Memorial Corridor Overlay District will allow the Eastern States Exposition to install LED signs and prohibits and number of uses including adult entertainment venues, check cashing businesses and electronic gaming establishments within its boundaries.
The district is bordered by the Westfield River to the west and south, the Agawam town line to the southeast, the Connecticut River to the east and Park Street and Park Avenue to the north. The Fairgrounds Sub-District of the district is bordered by the Westfield River to the south, Memorial Avenue/Route 147 to the west and north and the westerly side of Circuit Avenue to the east and northeast.
The Planning Department is refining the form-based zoning proposal for the Merrick neighborhood. Sullivan projected that the review would be complete within “the next month or so.”

In addition to the above efforts, Gov. Deval Patrick announced on July 18 that the town would receive a $900,000 Community Development Block Grant for the repair of the Memorial neighborhood and to promote its rehabilitation in support of its diverse population.
The money is designated for sidewalk replacements, housing rehabilitation assistance for 13 units, code enforcement and support for family self-sufficiency and homebuyer programs, English for Speakers of Other Languages, camp scholarships and Head Start.

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