Page 13 - BusinessWest March 17, 2021
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  West Springfield
Continued from page 11
while still vibrant by most measures, has some vacancies and, in general, is underperforming.
Reichelt said the city will look to help address this situation, and other business and economic-development issues in the city, through the hiring, at least on a temporary basis, of what’s being called an ‘economic recovery director.’
“The goal with this new position is to build better business relationships in the community, help with busi- ness retention, and focus on some
of the underutilized areas, like the north-of-91 section of Riverdale,” he explained.
Already, there are signs of progress, he said, noting the reopened White Hut, the expansion of Calabrese Market on Park Street, and the sale of the for- mer Hofbrahaus property to the owner of the Hangar Pub and Grill and grow- ing ‘Wings Over’ stable of restaurants, among other positive developments.
Meanwhile, a number of infrastruc- ture plans now in place are designed
to improve traffic flow and, ultimately, promote more vibrancy in the city. First up is Park Street, he said, adding that
it is being repaved and steps are being taken to taken to make the commons more accessible and safer to use. Those plans include what the mayor called a mile-long loop or walking and biking trail around the green space.
Elm Street will follow, he went on, adding that this will be a multi-faceted initiative designed to beautify the area, add more parking, redesign the inter- section of Elm Street and Route 20, and allow people to make more and better use of the green space there.
“We want to make it more walkable, more friendly, and more inviting so we can complement the business invest- ment that’s happening there,” he told BusinessWest, adding that this project is in the design phase and should com- mence in 2022. Likewise, a huge, $25 million project to improve traffic flow on Memorial Avenue will take place that same year.
Fair Assessment
Sitting in the large conference room in the Big E’s administration building, Cassidy reflected on what has been
an ultra-challenging 12 months for this regional institution — and what lies ahead, to the extent that he could, obviously.
He said every aspect of this enter- prise — from the annual fall fair to the year-round shows that draw visitors from across the Northeast, to the res- taurant on the grounds, Storrowton Tavern — have been deeply impacted by the pandemic.
And the hurt is still being felt. The shows slated for weekends in Janu- ary and February were all canceled, he said, with some, including the huge Western Mass. Home & Garden Show,
moved back on the calendar, in this case to August.
The Big E has received some sup- port — nearly $1 million in the first roundofPPP,withanapplication
in for the second round of funding. There have been some cutbacks — the workforce has been trimmed from 30 full-time employees to 25 — and those who are left have found themselves with ... let’s call them broadened job descriptions.
“Those of us who are still here have had to do jobs we’ve never had to before,” he noted, adding that such
West Springfield
Continued on page 45
Mayor Will Reichelt says initiatives
like a new economic recovery director and
a series of infrastructure plans will help keep West Springfield
on the right track.
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Staff Photo

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