To better inform your decision about the upcoming election, SPT sent four questions regarding important current historic preservation topics to better understand how city council candidates stand on historic preservation in Springfield. We sent the following questions to all city council candidates and asked that they respond by October 4th.
1) The Historical Commission protects 1,300 properties in the City’s eleven local historic districts, oversees the Demolition Delay Ordinance, and reviews federal, state and municipal projects which impact historic resources. The Commission remains, however, one of the few major commissions not provided staff support by anyone trained in its area.
Would you support creation of a position trained in historic preservation to assist the Springfield Historical Commission and then advocate with the Mayor to fund the position?
2) The Historical Commission is composed of 7 members and 2 alternates. One seat has been vacant for more than 4 years. Several commissioners have poor attendance records. In the past year, several meetings have had to be canceled due to lack of quorum. Applications for work within historic districts are automatically approved if not acted upon within 60 days.
What would you as a city councilor do to ensure all Historical Commission seats are full and that Historical Commission members attend meetings?
3) The City continues to fund demolition, including demolition of historic buildings, rather than offer rehabilitation incentives. This policy reduces the tax base and disrupts neighborhoods.
What would you do as a city councilor to see that the City’s first efforts are to provide rehabilitation incentives rather than to utilize demolition funds?
4) The City often holds tax-foreclosed buildings for several years, during which the structures deteriorate from lack of care. For example, the City foreclosed in 2009 on the historic Chapman & Brooks Block at 135 Lyman Street and the historic Knox Automobile Factory at 53 Wilbraham Road. Both buildings are now in far worse condition than when acquired by the City.
What would you as City Councilor do to ensure that foreclosed buildings are maintained while awaiting disposition?
Michael A. Fenton, Ward 2
Justin Hurst, At-Large
Christopher Pohner, At-Large
Israel Rivera, At-Large
Timothy J. Ryan, At-Large
Kateri B. Walsh, At-Large
Jesse Lederman, At-Large
Kelli Moriarty Finn, At-Large
Melvin Edwards, Ward 3
Tracye Whitfield, At Large