Locals react to possible Dunbar Center closing - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Locals react to possible Dunbar Center closing

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Money woes at the Dunbar Center have left many people worried about what will happen to the community if it closes.

Carmen Dingui, of Springfield, brings her daughter to the center for boxing lessons.

"It's important for me to have my daughter to come to these kind of places so she doesn't do the negative things and turn to the streets," Dingui said.

The Dunbar Center started having money problems years ago. And while the YMCA of Greater Springfield beginning operation in the building in 2011 helped, it didn't solve the problem. They owe about $1 million on their mortgage and the building is now preparing to be auctioned off.

"Whoever the purchaser may be, it would be, I think, important that they had some interest in keeping us here," YMCA Executive Director Kirk Smith said.

But that's not a guarantee, which could leave the 3,500 residents that use the facility looking for some place else to go.

"I think that it would be really sad for the kids in the community, kids in the surrounding communities," Dingui said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a statement earlier on Wednesday, saying: "The Dunbar is a special place for Springfield's kids and families, and its loss would be a hard blow for the community."

Tracy Thomas, an instructor at the center, says she's been coming to Dunbar for 40 years. She worries what would happen to the Mason Square neighborhood if it closed.

"It would be a lot dysfunction," she said. "We have a lot of youth off the streets and that's mainly what's important. This community is in a lot of trouble right now. This is not the time to take something like this away."

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