Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Data Doesn't Lie...

Reports flowing out of the Republican this evening note that the long promised but much delayed Info Center Project may be in jeopardy. The squabbling endures with the present House bill designating the STCC Industrial Park as the Info Center Location. The bill is a major capital projects measure, which includes projects statewide.

Rep. Petrolati has been pushing the STCC site leading to a public dispute between him and US Rep Richard Neal and most of the Springfield delegation to Beacon Hill. Petrolati has claimed that it would be cheaper because Rep. Neal's preferred site, the old Technical High School, because the buildings would not need to be renovated. However, state studies on the project say that STCC buildings would require extra work to keep the building secure. The Info Center would server as a backup for sensitive state information and requires heavy security.

Governor Deval Patrick will not commit to either site, but rather is only committed to a Western Massachusetts location. Petrolati's pull on the project may come from his position as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives. His motive for continuing to insist on the STCC location remains suspect. As the risk of Springfield's loss of the project grows, it seems quite possible that all of this may have been an elaborate plot to keep the Center out of Springfield entirely.

However, if a Western Mass location is certain, where else could it be put? Sen. Candaras supports the Tech site and Sen. Buoniconti appears ambivalent about which site. Reps. Swan and Rivera-Coakley back Petrolati either out of fear of Springfield losing the Center entirely or exchange for something Petrolati can get them. Reps. Puppolo, Curran, and Rogeness, all of who represent both Springfield and nearby areas are for Tech and so it seems unlikely any of those outlying areas would be alternatives.

But Ludlow? Maybe. Although this would only be true if Rep. Petrolati's motives are as impure as that. That suggestion is preposterous. Still, if Springfield does not get the Center it will probably go to another WMass City outside Hampden County. Holyoke or Westfield might get it, with Holyoke being the more likely of the two because of the city's economic needs. Northampton, Pittsfield, or Greenfield seem like likelier candidates. Pittsfield in particular may be considered better due to its isolation in the Berkshires and that city's economic woes.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Curran and Puppolo offered an amendment that would place the burden of choosing before the Governor, but sources say that it will fail. Why other state reps should care which site it is in Springfield is also inexplicable. The best hope for Tech may be in the Senate where Candaras plans to offer an amendment to put the Center at Tech. The dispute will hopefully be settled for sure by the end of the legislative session next week. If not, then Springfield may well lose the Center and provide the city a major setback.

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