Westfield to aid local Red Cross chapter

WESTFIELD – Mayor Daniel M. Knapik is seeking the City Council authorization of a four-year lease agreement with the Westfield Red Cross Chapter.
Knapik is submitting a resolution to the City Council “authorizing a lease with the American Red Cross for the use of certain rooms in city hall.”
Knapik said Wednesday that the pact, which will provide office and program space, will give the Red Cross Chapter time to seek another suitable location for its administrative and programming functions.
“My understanding is that there is a significant concern at the national level to cut expenses” by closing and consolidating smaller chapters, Knapik said. “We had to find a cost-effective way to keep the local chapter in Westfield. The long and short of it is that we don’t want this to be gone from Westfield.”
The national Red Cross is reorganizing and folding small local chapters into larger regional organizations.
“If we lose our local chapter, we’d be consolidated into the Springfield Regional District,” Knapik said. “My concern is that if (another) regional disaster occurs, all of the resources would go to Springfield. Having our own executive director positions the city to be better able to procure assets in those situations.”
The Westfield Red Cross Chapter Board of Directors will also have to approve the lease proposal which will provide administrative and classroom space on the third floor of city hall, classroom space on the second floor and a testing area on the first floor.
“The chapter will pay monthly rent with an annual escalator,” Knapik said. “The term of the lease is four years or until they find other suitable space. There is no penalty for early termination.”
Knapik said the goal of the local chapter is to vacate its building at 48 Broad Street by March 1, 2012.
“I don’t know if that is a self-imposed goal or a directive from the national organization,” he said.
The city is working to accommodate the local chapter because it is a valuable resource for the greater Westfield community, Knapik said, assisting residents in emergency response situations, such as house fires, natural disasters, as well as providing numerous educational and professional training programs.

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