Death of chairman stalls capital campaign to restore Campanile

April 26, 2018 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – The $20 million capital campaign that was intended to raise the funding needed for the permanent restoration of the Campanile was derailed by the death of William L. Putnam III, the founder of WWLP TV.

Patrick Sullivan, executive director of the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, explained to Reminder Publications that when Putnam, who came back to Springfield from his retirement home in Arizona in 2014 to chair the effort, died later that year at the age of 90, the campaign stalled.

Sullivan’s explanation came after the announcement the city was planning to use $200,000 in an effort to prevent further deterioration of the century-old bell tower.     

Although the campaign was to use a non-profit headed by Mayor Domenic Sarno – Springfield Council for Cultural and Community Affairs – Sullivan said, “City officials aren’t fundraisers … Putnam was the driving force behind it.”

He added that state law prohibits elected officials from such activities.

Of the campaign, Sullivan said, “It went away with his [Putnam’s] passing.”

The non-profit, he explained, was created for various entities in the city that needed a non-profit organization for grant applications.

Although the city is now seeking both state and federal funds to restore the Campanile, Sullivan added the city has applied for Community Preservation Fund monies. The application has been passed through the first phase of approval and is now being considered for the next step.

Sullivan said he is hoping someone will step up and take on Putnam’s mantle as the chair of the effort.

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