School HQ Good Fit for Downtown Springfield
February 19, 2010 : The Republican, Editorial
Any further delay in moving the Springfield School Department's administrative offices from its antiquated quarters on State Street to the vacant former federal building on Main Street would be a costly mistake for the city.
That's why we hope members of the Springfield City Council will stop trying to derail the move and listen to the advice of the city's Law Department. Associate City Solicitor Patricia Bobba Donovan warned councilors on Wednesday that the city cannot cancel its new 10-year lease for the old federal building at 1550 Main St. without exposing the city to an expensive lawsuit.
Councilor Timothy J. Rooke has been leading a push to break the lease, arguing that the city could find less expensive office space.
We think delaying the move, which was announced last summer, would create its own problems and costs. Furthermore, we can't think of a better location for School Department headquarters than an empty building in the heart of downtown.
The city and the state are spending more than $5.8 million in capital improvements at the site, with the state kicking in $3 million. Under its lease agreement with the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, the city will pay about $500,000 a year â€“ or $10.86 cents a square foot â€“ which is less than the market rate for downtown office space. The agency also has lease agreements with Baystate Health and the U.S. General Services Administration.
The addition of the new office workers â€“ including 150 school administration employees â€“ to a building that would otherwise be â€œdark,â€ will add to the vitality of downtown by creating new customers for restaurants and shops. And parents who have business with the School Department can easily reach the building by bus from all parts of the city.
The city has made an excellent case for this move. We think it's a no-brainer. The City Council needs to get out of the way.
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