WBZ/Westinghouse/Springfield 4-01-08 meeting report

Robert F. Sutherland madprof@ix.netcom.com
Fri Apr 4 00:23:58 EDT 2008

I prepared a presentation of ~10 minutes (printed a clue sheet to keep me
in gear),
and wore a tie to help me be taken seriously.

As I came into sight of the Westinghouse complex, I have to admit,
the towers gave me a thrill, of radio pride, of acknowledging 
the accomplishments at that site.

The meeting was at a sheet metal union headquarters, where monthly East
community board meetings are held (thus well known to the neighborhood).

I arrived ~ 6:30, just as Packard Development's Paul Cincotta, project
and their engineering consulting firm VHB (John Ferman?) arrived,
so I spoke to them immediately, politely saying that I wanted to speak of
the historical
significance of the towers, after the community intended issues
had been covered & questions answered.

More then 120 local folks showed up (I quit counting when chairs were full,
people starting sitting on the floor).
In attendance were Darlotte Justice, district director for Senator Gale
and Brian Conners of the Springfield Planning & Economic Development office.

The leader of the community board, Kathy Brown handled the introductions
and question period.

Paul Cincotta led the presentation, telling of new traffic lights, widening
Page Blvd, 
water & power considerations. 

Oddly, the developer's maps (excellent graphics) were upside down, drawn
with north pointing ~200 degrees. 
Drawn plans of proposed shopping center layout show parking lot where the
towers still exist (shudder!!)

There was a previous meeting, in Nov 2007, which would have been a much
appropriate point to inject historical comment, earlier.

~ 8:10, when questions were winding down, I reminded the Paul Cincotta of
my intent,
they let me take the podium for about 7 minutes. 
Some kicks & spurts, and sometimes not near enuf to microphone, but I felt
it went basically smoothly.
I spoke of the historical significance: 1st commercial lic, the uniqueness
in early radio history,
and that there were few stations on the air at that time.
I mentioned the Thornten Burgess show & other early shows which had
importance to the Springfield area.
Mentioned Springfield's pride in the cities firsts (Gee-Bee airplanes &
Indian motorcycles),
implying of course that early WBZ was a Springfield 1st.
Told that WBZ broadcast the first Boston Bruins hockey game.

I explained the concept of how the towers (as Doug Drown wrote)
would make a unique centerpiece  for the [shopping center] project, 
and mentioned a name "Radio Plaza, the birthplace of WBZ"
Included descriptions of a commemorative display or plaque
explaining the history of WBZ in Springfield.
I suggested that the building(s) under the towers could be revamped 
(rebuilt to suit the shopping center), preserving the towers on top. 

When I ended, there was considerable clapping from the residents, a total
Over 20 people approached me to thank me, some for learning the historical
some who know it, thanking me for bringing it to light!

The Developer and the engineer firm asked for paper copy, I gave them
printouts of the 
BostonRadio.Org & Donna's "early history of WBZ", and the recent
VirtualEarth image 
which faintly shows the 2 towers (see below). 
Many asked where these towers are, I pointed outside, (there was still enuf
light at 8:30 to see them)

Paul Cincotta said "maybe a tower could be saved",  I pointed out that the
towers were for support,
transmitting element was a long wire (ok, dipole) between, so he understood
it's a set. 

time frame?    construction start early 2009?

I learned that a new "Memorial Industrial Park II"  is scheduled to begin
construction nearby,
northeast of the I-291 exit 5, (& from Westinghouse complex). 
Issues like traffic patterns of this have been considered re the proposed
shopping center.

4-02-08 Email from Kathy Brown, East Springfield Community board  
"Thank you very much for your interest in our neighborhood and the
value of the towers.... I appreciate your attendance and your
comments....Your comments were well received. Please keep in touch...."

So, in all, there's a spark of hope?    The community folks' response
was well noticed by Packard Development.

Images:   http://home.netcom.com/~madprof/radio.html
     (scroll down to "Save the Towers")
1 from Microsoft Visual Earth ("Live search"), recent,
in which the 2 towers are visible, with very keen eyes.
I did put arrows to the towers centers.
Towers are in the west end of the Westinghouse complex. 
The gif is from USGS, showing the whole Westinghouse complex.
Bob Sutherland.

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