In another thread, I was asked for ways that I thought the state could help Springfield. It is difficult to describe Springfield’s problems succinctly. I can only offer my middle-class white perspective, but there are many other residents’ viewpoints which need to be considered. We are a very diverse city.
From my perspective, Springfield is struggling with poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of services/amenities, lack of recreational options, lack of economic diversity, and a recent particularly nasty reputation for crime (partially deserved, partially undeserved – it wasn’t right for Chris Gabrielli to call us “Detroit” a few years back).
As a city resident, I live here because I don’t want to live in an enclave where everyone is just like me. I want to live in an ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood. That diversity is slipping away as the city becomes more and more poor, and more and more ethnically/racially segregated from the region. I would like to see the city retain a more balanced populace, especially economically.
I would like to be proud of my city, to be able to advise people to move here. I would like to be able to drive to retail stores and restaurants in my neighborhood instead of having to leave the city to go to a bookstore (Springfield has zero firsthand bookstores). I would like to not have to worry that a state sponsored home for sex offenders or drug addicts is going to move next door to me (this happens more than you’d believe).
I would like to not have to explain away the city’s reputation on a daily basis. I would not like to have to worry when I see a “for sale” sign go up on my block, and to have to explain to everyone else that this person is not fleeing, but is moving for their job or something else innocent. I would like to not be constantly told that I should move by my friends.
It is not possible to solve all these problems at once, but we can do some things immediately, short-term, medium-term, and long-term to make Springfield a better place, to make it the engine of the region again.