Schools head tries to assure homebuyers Violence, drugs worry parents

May 02, 1993|By New York Times News Service

SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUESETTS — SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Acting on reports that fear of a violent, academically inferior public school system is driving prospective homebuyers away from the city, School Superintendent Peter J. Negroni has urged real estate agents to send him those voicing such concerns.

The reports were confirmed by Audrey Simonds, past president of the Greater Springfield Realtors Association, who said the fears were most pervasive among buyers with school-age children.

Mr. Negroni and Mayor Robert T. Markel said they believed that news stories about crime and drugs, weapons confiscated in the schools, two reported sexual assaults in a school and fights among students scared off homebuyers and businesses.

To allay such fears, Mr. Negroni has offered hesitant homebuyers personal tours of schools and conferences. To date, no one has taken him up on his offer.

Mr. Negroni and Mr. Markel invited real estate brokers to attend the recent education fair in Springfield in which each school showcased its offerings to parents and prospective students. They have also met with about 100 agents to date, and plan to meet with more.

Sales of one-family homes in Springfield lagged behind the region for much of 1992, despite an average selling price around $95,000 compared to the average regional price of about $125,000.

In an effort to stop the trend, the city has begun several programs using federal and state grants to aid homebuyers, including renovating abandoned properties for resale, making low-interest improvement loans available and offering workshops on financing and home maintenance.

The National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have chosen Springfield as one of 12 cities nationwide to be a demonstration site for the development of additional affordable housing programs.

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