December 28, 2016
SPRINGFIELD — It has been a long and uncertain road for the Hampden County Sheriff Department’s treatment facility, but after several years of being in a temporary space, the Western Massachusetts Correctional Addiction Center has found a new home and a new name on Mill Street.
“It is now the Western Massachusetts Wellness and Recovery Center,” said Steve O’Neil, public information officer for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.
On Wednesday night, neighborhood residents were invited to take a tour of the facility, which opened about two weeks ago.
“We want the neighbors to feel really comfortable having us in the neighborhood as part of their community,” said Della Blake, the director of the center.
After being pushed out of the city’s South End to make room for the MGM Springfield casino in the spring of 2015, the program was temporarily located at the Holyoke Geriatric Authority. An initial plan to site a new facility in Springfield’s Brightwood neighborhood was met with vehement opposition from neighbors and withdrawn.
The center is now located at the former Ring Nursing Home, at 155 Mill St., and can house up to 149 people.
There is a 10-year-lease signed by the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, building owner Mill Street Iconic LLC and Sheriff Michael Ashe.
The new facility will have a new name: the Western Massachusetts Recovery and Wellness Center.
Due to the resistance of some residents to the project, a neighborhood advisory council was created to make sure people who live in the neighborhood could have a say, particularly on the exterior appearance of the building.
Lee A. Vaughn, a lifelong resident of Springfield, remembers when the center was a nursing home. He sat on the advisory council and said he is pleased with the outcome of the facility.
“I think they were very receptive to our requests, and we worked well together,” said Vaughn. “After this place was no longer a nursing home, everyone knows the condition it was in. It obviously looks much better now.”
Neighbors were able to give their input on everything from the type of fencing on the property to signage, lighting and more.
It has been a long and uncertain road for the Hampden County Sheriff Department’s treatment facility, but after several years of being in a temporary space, the Western Massachusetts Correctional Addiction Center has found a new home and a new name on Mill Street.
“I also sit on the Maple Hill/Six Corners neighborhood council, and I have not really heard many complaints. They had a good relationship with the neighbors when they were on Howard Street, and I expect the same with us,” he said.
The center will have a larger open house in the new year.