Office of Mayor Domenic J. Sarno
MAYOR DOMENIC J. SARNO ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT PLAN WITH COLUMBIA GAS STEMMING FROM DOWNTOWN GAS EXPLOSION
October 3, 2013 – Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced that the city has reached a settlement with Columbia Gas and its insurance company over the City’s claims arising from the natural gas explosion in downtown Springfield on Friday evening, November 23, 2012. The blast injured 18 people, including municipal employees, and leveled a downtown building, damaging municipal infrastructure such as roadway and sidewalks in the city’s entertainment district.
The settlement was negotiated by the City Law Department’s chief of litigation, Attorney John T. Liebel. The total payment is $650,000, which represents compensation for the property damage, call back costs for injured personnel and other expenses. Attorney Liebel stated; “this figure is very close to everything the City has alleged liability for and we think it is fair.” This figure does not include repayments for open claims for wages and medical bills that are being processed on a case by case basis. Additionally, the Columbia Gas Foundation will be providing a grant to the City in the amount of $200,000 to utilize in planning efforts and costs related to urban renewal plans in the affected area.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated; “I would like to thank Attorney Liebel and the Springfield Law Department for the successful resolution of this claim. In addition I would like to acknowledge Columbia Gas who immediately stepped up and took ownership of this accident and has worked with the City for a successful resolution. Out of this tragedy comes an opportunity; this is the beginning of a revitalization of a significant section of downtown Springfield.”
The City, through its Redevelopment Authority, and with the help of DevelopSpringfield, will focus on the critical goal of rebuilding the downtown area surrounding the Worthington Street neighborhood. One of the first items needed to accomplish this goal, in a thoughtful manner, is the preparation of a Rebuilding Plan for the neighborhood. The plan would assess the long-term impacts to the neighborhood and provide a framework for rebuilding. The City is likely to invite MassDevelopment to assist in this process. The scope of the grant will include components such as: data collection, mapping, the assessment of existing conditions, market analysis, community outreach and focus groups, conceptual redevelopment planning, a financing plan for a preferred redevelopment and an implementation plan.
DevelopSpringfield will make available beginning today, a Request for Proposals, seeking planning and development consultants to assist with this important work. The RFP can be found on the DevelopSpringfield website: http://www.developspringfield.com/index.html .