SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--Viewers are reaching out to Western Mass News, concerned about the condition of the tunnel underneath the German Gerena Community School in Springfield.
The aging school has a public tunnel that runs under the building and both children and the community alike use it to get from one side to the other. Recently, water has pooled along the floor and other health and safety conditions prompted a viewer to ask us about permanent fixes for the building, Western Mass News is getting answers.
Work was done Tuesday to fix some of the issues inside. School officials said puddles will be vacuumed up as the ceiling leaks to keep the tunnel as dry as possible. For one local lawmaker, he wants more permanent fixes.
The public tunnel underneath the German Gerena community school was in the process of getting a facelift when Western Mass News cameras arrived Tuesday.
Recently, the building had pooling water on the ground and other health concerns that were brought to our attention by a viewer. We reached out to Springfield Public Schools and were told in part-quote:
"Last week, a routine tour of the site with an industrial hygienist resulted in a report that the tunnel ceiling is mold-free and included a general maintenance recommendation to simply re-paint the ceiling."
Which is what we saw workers doing Tuesday. But the tunnel, which school officials said is overseen both by the school district and the city of Springfield has had leaking problems in the past. Our newsroom received two press releases from the city within the last year, promising a project to upgrade the facility. As of Tuesday, we learned from school officials that the project was stalled due to COVID and is now in the bidding process.
Representative Carlos Gonzalez said he plans to call a meeting with the mayor, saying more prompt fixes are needed.
"They have found money to purchase buildings in downtown, they can definitely find money to fix the school...kids go to the school and this needs to be repaired. Whether the city uses a rainy day fund, it’s raining in there and we need to repair the school immediately," said Rep. Carlos Gonzalez.
School officials said $15 million worth of repairs has already gone into this building. We reached out to the Department of Public Works for a clearer timeline of when the project will be completed. We have not yet heard back.