Mayor Domenic J. Sarno joined with Executive Director of PBRM Patrick Sullivan, Chief Development Officer Tim Sheehan, Director of Community Development Administration and Finance Cathy Buono, Director of Disaster Recovery and Compliance Tina Quagliato-Sullivan, Capital Asset Construction Director Peter Garvey, members of the Springfield Park Commission and other officials to tour and announce proposed resiliency improvements to the structure of the Watershop Dam.
The city’s NDRC Phase II application included resiliency improvements at the High Hazard-potential Watershops Dam, and this work is currently in the preliminary design and permitting phase. The estimated total project cost to implement the resiliency improvements is $2,550,000, with funding from a National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) grant. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021 and should be completed by August 2022.
Mayor Domenic Sarno stated, “Springfield has long been on the cutting edge of climate change and disaster preparedness. Since enduring two federally declared disasters in 2011, the city has initiated several programs related to community resiliency. This project meets two goals set by my administration: Removing the Watershops Dam from the state’s High Hazard category, and implementing green energy-efficient measures by installing solar panels at the Brookings School. In the future, this school can be used as an emergency shelter due to electricity produced by the solar panels. Successful implementation of the proposed repairs will bring Springfield significantly closer to creating a more resilient community prepared to face the challenges of climate change. I’m truly appreciative of the efforts of Congressman Neal in identifying funding for these projects.”
Congressman Neal said, “I am thrilled the city was successful in their application for NDRC Grant funds. When you see catastrophic events happening across our country, it emphasizes the need for these types of projects to prevent such events in the City of Springfield. I applaud Mayor Sarno and his team in identifying the need to rebuild make resilience upgrades to this dam to ensure the protection of the residents downstream from this water source.”
Chief Development Officer, Timothy Sheehan, added, “Our team has focused not just on rebuilding Springfield post-disaster, but on rebuilding Springfield as a sustainable and resilient, forward-thinking City that is poised to successfully overcome any future challenges.”
Watershops Dam is a High Hazard-potential concrete and masonry gravity dam owned by the City of Springfield. The original purpose of the dam was to supply hydropower to the U.S. federal government’s Springfield Armory, which operated from 1794 to 1968. The federal government sold Watershops Pond and the dam to the City of Springfield on August 1, 1969. Watershops Pond has been conserved by the City for the public’s passive recreational use ever since the property transfer.
The city’s Department of Parks, Buildings, and Recreation Management (PBRM) operates and maintains two city park properties with direct waterfront access to the pond: Harriet Tubman Park on Hickory Street and Alden Street Park on Alden Street. PBRM is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Watershops Dam, and the structure is critical to the city’s requirement to maintain the Watershops Pond public space and access.
Patrick Sullivan said, “This NDRC grant accomplishes a significant goal for our city in the rebuilding of this dam and, more importantly, ensures the protection of the South End neighborhood from future flooding events. The ability to conduct an assessment of our current conditions and identify the resources necessary to improve the operation of this dam are key in guaranteeing this dam is operational for another 100 years. It is a critical safety issue to have this high hazard dam properly repaired. The city completed repairs at the Lower Van Horn Dam last year and this project will ensure all high hazard dams are properly repaired across the city.”
Pete Garvey stated, “This significant project ensures that a 160-year old structure will maintain its integrity for at least another 100 years. This location holds great history for our city and to be part of the rebuilding of this dam and preserving its history is very special. I am very excited for the residents of this neighborhood and the South End. As future storms develop, we can safeguard the public and, if needed, provide residents with shelter at the Brookings School with the installation of the solar panels.”