Thursday, October 26, 2017
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Director of Capital Asset Construction Peter Garvey, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Patrick Sullivan, South End Community Center President Tad Tokarz and South End Community Center Executive Director Chae Swan held a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier today to celebrate the completion of new South End Community Center (SECC) 99 Marble Street.
The construction of the new $10.3 million facility, located within Emerson Wight Park, replaces the original Howard Street building destroyed by the 2011 tornado. The new building is approximately 29,000 square feet and includes a large gymnasium with basketball courts, administrative offices, a lounge and concession area, and a multi-purpose room for boxing, wrestling, and dance functions. The second floor has an exercise center and three general classrooms. The facility also has an outdoor basketball court and is designed to make use of the Emerson Wight fields and playgrounds.
Mayor Sarno stated, “I am thrilled to complete this project. My city team, along with the SECC Board, has developed a first-class community center for our youth. It is very important to engage individuals at a young age to teach them the importance of participating in positive programming and being part of their community. This project represents six years of hard negotiations with our federal government to ensure everyone affected by the tornado has been made whole.”
"Community centers in our neighborhoods are not only places of recreation but they provide a safe and positive space for families and individuals of all ages," said Congressman Richard E. Neal. "Congratulations to Mayor Sarno and his team for their continuous work on this project and for ensuring that this important neighborhood hub was revitalized."
Peter Garvey added, “This facility will provide optimum programming opportunities. The state-of-the-art gymnasium and classrooms will be an asset to this neighborhood and the South End community. We are very pleased to be working with Fontaine Brothers on this project.”
Patrick Sullivan stated, “This project will revitalize Emerson Wight Park with positive programming. We are excited to welcome the SECC and look forward to collaborating on engaging year-round activities and programs. This community center will create a new chapter for not only the South End neighborhood, but also for all of the families that utilize this new facility.”
Park Commission Chairman Brian Santaniello said, “The Park Commission is proud to be part of the continuation of the SECC. All of us need to participate in providing our youth the opportunity to be in a safe environment. This facility will once again be the heart and soul of the South End.”
More About the South End Community Center
Preserving Our History
In 1939, the South End Community Center initiated a legacy that its founders could never have dreamed possible. The center’s first home was a former school building on Williams Street. Serving the community for nearly four decades, the facility was falling into disrepair. Then State Representative Tony Scibelli played a pivotal role in acquiring the former Armory Building constructed in 1895 to relocate the SECC. The new purpose of the granite structure would continue to serve the youth of the South End. Through the years, the mission has remained consistent and the community center has been a mainstay for the South End, ensuring quality recreational programs and positive resources for the residents of the community. The center’s growth has been realized by its inherent strength to connect to its legacy. Many board members of the South End Community Center were once patrons in their youth and today they continue to support the facility with their expertise and experience. The South End Community Center is a social and recreational center offering opportunities for youth to develop their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive abilities and to experience achievement, leadership, enjoyment, friendship, and recognition.
A new chapter in history unfolds today. The community came together to ensure the rebuilding of the SECC. We must, however, take this opportunity to recognize and thank two individuals who fought long and hard to make certain the center and its mission would continue to serve our youth following the disastrous tornado on June 1, 2011. Representative Scibelli’s dream for the South End of Springfield has been preserved through the tireless efforts of Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Congressman Richard E. Neal to secure funding to rebuild this facility. We can all take pride in the rebirth of this facility today; the reward will be the memories and passion created here through the programs offered for our youth.
Ensuring the Legacy
The South End Community Center was built to create a homelike environment. Talk to anyone who grew up in the center and they will tell you it was their second home. This “home” concept was incorporated throughout the design. While meeting the durability requirements for a public facility, the finishes, furnishings, fixtures, and equipment in the SECC are comfortable and have a home-like quality. As you tour the facility, note the use of indirect lighting as the main ambient lighting and the use of colors and textures throughout the interior design. The center’s design offers organized instructional program areas for physical activities such as dance, yoga, and martial arts, and for academic and arts programs such as science, crafts, and theater. It also offers opportunities for unstructured activities such as game playing, socializing, club meetings, and outdoor play. The gymnasium has the feel of the original gym and will soon host many tournaments; it will serve a wide range of activities beyond basketball. The center comfortably serves a dual purpose, accommodating unstructured social interaction among different age groups and providing instructional classes all in a safe, supervised environment.
A computer room provides youth with supervised computer and internet access for recreation and homework purposes. The teen room provides a separate space for older youth to socialize independently from the rest of the facility. It provides functions similar to those of the commons area and includes space for games, TV watching, and conversation. The goal of this new facility is to encourage creativity, introduce team building, and most importantly provide a safe environment for our youth to excel. We are all proud of what has been accomplished and cannot wait to see what the future holds for the youth who enter these doors.