SECTION 1. It is hereby found and declared that presently within Western Massachusetts there exists the need for a museum and cultural center with twelve thousand square feet of space to be used as a center to educate the public and serve as a resource center for schools, colleges and public and private agencies and organizations, and individuals regarding the historical significance of this part of the Commonwealth to the success of the Underground Railroad, Civil Rights Movement in America and the role of African Americans in development of the Western Massachusetts region.
It is hereby further found and declared that the construction and development of such center is needed in order to further enhance regional tourism, attract conferences and conventions, and large gatherings to Springfield, thereby generating an influx of people from outside the Commonwealth who would utilize the tourist facilities and related businesses in every region of the Commonwealth.
It is hereby further found and declared that the construction and development of such a center in the city of Springfield will serve as a catharsis important to alleviate some of the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the discrimination practiced against African Americans, which had state and federal governmental statutory sanction.
SECTION 2. For the planning, financing, development, and construction of the new center in the Commonwealth, a sum sufficient to cover the purpose herein will hereby made available, for the purpose and subject to the provisions of law regulating the disbursements of public funds and the approval thereof.
SECTION 3. The following words and phrases, as used in this act, shall, unless the context otherwise requires, have the following meanings:
“Project,” the acquisition, development, construction, expansion, rehabilitation, improvement, furnishing, equipping, or finishing, or a combination of the foregoing, or operation, promotion, and maintenance, of a museum and cultural center in Springfield containing twelve thousand square feet of space for exhibition, display, conference rooms and related furnishings, furniture, machinery, equipment, facilities, approaches, driveways, parking facilities, which shall not exceed two hundred passenger automobile spaces, roadways, public transportation, planting and landscaping, the acquisition of land or other property, or rights, easements, and interests acquired for or in respect of any such land or property, the demolition or removal of any buildings or structures on land so acquired or in or with respect to which interests are so acquired and site preparation.
“Mason Square,” so-called, in area within the city of Springfield shall be the site for locating the center.
“Operator,” the person, corporation, authority, company, group or entity, whether private or public, entering into contract with the Commonwealth to manage, operate and maintain the new center as authorized and directed in this act.
SECTION 4. Within ninety days of the effective date of this act, the Department of Capital Planning and Operations, hereinafter called the “commissioner,” shall conduct or contract for due diligence studies, and prepare a report and preliminary specifications which shall include the following:
Preliminary specifications for a museum and cultural center suitable for small permanent displays, scale conferences, art and photographic exhibits, library, and a theatre to accommodate small audiences to be built in the Mason Square Area of Springfield.
The preliminary specifications shall be developed and prepared in consultation with the African-American Museum and Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts and the city of Springfield, shall include the design, physical, and operating characteristics which the facility shall contain, a precise estimate of the costs of construction, and such other details or criteria relative to the construction of a building for use as a museum and cultural center.
(b) Certified appraisals of land to be acquired and assembled for the project, including relocation of existing structures and businesses.
(c) Studies of area wide traffic impact, transit requirements, necessary or desirable traffic changes for pedestrian and vehicular access, improvements for pedestrian safety, the accommodation of on-site parking not to exceed two hundred parking spaces and costs of all of the above; provided, however, that such studies may, at the direction of the Commissioner, in consultation with the city of Springfield. (d) Establish criteria, requirements, duties and financial responsibilities of an operator to operate and maintain the center constructed pursuant to this act.
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