Millions needed to fix Gerena School tunnel - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Millions needed to fix Gerena School tunnel

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John Rivas, 23, has been walking the Gerena School tunnel since he was in fifth grade.

The tunnel connects Main Street and Plainfield Street in Springfield's North End.

Students use the tunnel to get to school, and some residents use it so they don't have to walk across the busy streets.

Rivas remembers the walk when he was a student.

"Before... even just a little bit of rain... you would have little trickles of water going down... you would see the floor... and how the mold, or mildew, builds up on the floor and then on the walls," Rivas said.

However, years later, he remembers it differently.

"Now I would say the building is so much better... you can actually breathe," Rivas said.

On Thursday night at the Gerena school, the school department and EPA took a look for themselves.

The leaks have been identified, but it will come with a big price tag.

Parks and Building Director Patrick Sullivan said it would cost $3 million to fix the problems.

However, local representatives have already started looking to the state for help.

At this point, there's no timetable of how long the work will take, but officials want parents to feel comfortable that the air quality is safe, especially if you have asthma.

"I cannot believe the difference since Mr. Sullivan has arrived... the difference in the air quality," said Antonette Pepe, former Gerena School employee and Springfield school committee member.

Officials are optimistic the project is moving forward, but for residents like Rivas, the project can't be done soon enough.

"As much as work has been done, we all know that sometimes, if things aren't fixed in a timely manner, it can end up being 10 times worse, and more cost ends up being on it," Rivas said.

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