WGBY announces the launch of “Divided We Stand: A Street in Our School,” a special Connecting Point series that will present various sides of one of the area’s longtime community issues: the tunnel beneath I-91 that runs through the Germán Gerena Community School in Springfield’s North End.
Built in 1973, the school currently serves 700 children. Because of the building’s close proximity to I-91, a tunnel was built on the lower level of the school so that students and members of the larger community, divided once the interstate was constructed, could safely walk from one side of their neighborhood to the other. Over time, “the tunnel,” as residents refer to it, became more than a passageway linking Plainfield and Main Streets. It became a pathway providing access to varied community services. A generation came to depend on the organizations that filled space within the tunnel itself.
Yet, due largely to extensive flooding and structural damage, time has changed this once vibrant space. Community spaces now stand empty.As residents and city leaders discuss their vision for the Gerena School and tunnel, WGBY explores its past and present. Viewers will learn just how much happens in this place they don’t see.
For the first time, WGBY will provide Spanish subtitles for the series of segments, airing periodically between March and May. The series’ first segment, available online, included a discussion about the school and the status of repairs to the tunnel with Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno and School Superintendent Daniel Warwick.
Future air dates are as follows: March 27, April 24, April 30 & May 20-22.
WGBY invites viewer feedback and especially encourages people who live near Gerena, largely members of the city’s Latino community, to contribute memories, stories or opinions throughout the series’ run.